Covert operations in Syria - NATO member states have long been active in Syria

Translation of my article "Verdeckte Operationen - Mitgliedsstaaten der NATO sind längst aktiv in Syrien" junge Welt, March 9, 2012, the edited version of my posting from Feb. 20, 2012 Nato-Staaten sind längst militärisch in Syrien aktiv - ein Überblick

Covert operations in Syria
NATO member states have long been active in Syria: sending weapons and volunteers to strengthen insurgents against President Bashir al-Assad. Special forces have been training them

by Joachim Guilliard
March 9, 2012 / focus / Page 3--Junge Welt
Translated by John Catalinotto, Chefredakteur von Workers World

Syrian insurgents are being trained by personnel of the NATO-backed National Transitional Council in Libya, as Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has complained on March 7 before the UN Security Council. In addition, NATO member States are actively intervening in the Syrian civil war. There is much evidence of direct and even military support to armed opposition groups by U.S., France and British forces, even if the intervening powers have taken every effort to leave no obvious traces.
NATO-member Turkey is carrying out a completely open support of the so-called Free Syrian Army, which operates on Turkish territory. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a collection of Arab feudal states, with Qatar in the lead, which is currently the most aggressive allies of the Western powers, is also extremely active along with Saudi Arabia, which has long supported clandestine Islamist opposition groups in Syria.

As ex-CIA agent Philip Giraldi reported in mid-December, unmarked NATO aircraft have flown in weapons and volunteers from Libya to Turkish bases in Alexandretta (Iskenderun). This seaport city near the Syrian border is at the same time a base of the FSA. The weapons collected in Libya are very useful, because they cannot be traced back to the supplier. And the Libyan fighters bring their fresh experience regarding how to recruit new people into the battle against trained soldiers, who are unable to freely fight back because of external pressure. According to Giraldi, instructors from French and British special forces are also on the ground helping the Syrian rebels, while the CIA and U.S. special forces are providing the insurgents with communications equipment and intelligence, so they can avoid any large units of Syrian troops.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West on several occasions of arming the rebels. "Through Turkey, Iraq and other countries weapons have been smuggled into Syria," dpa quoted the Moscow leader on Nov. 4, 2011. Ten days later, Lavrov was even clearer. The Interfax news agency reported that Western States "are illicitly providing weapons to Syria’s opposition to force the overthrow of President Bashir al-Assad," said Russia's top diplomat. "No one is commenting on it, and no one admits it, but the facts are impossible to contradict: Weapons are being smuggled from Turkey and Iraq to Syria, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Armed extremists use peaceful demonstrations in order to provoke Syrian government violence. " (Russia's Lavrov accuses West of arming Syrian opposition)

Agents in play

Also, the Israeli military information portal DEBKAfile released a report about planned deliveries of antitank weapons. As long ago as in August, it was said that Syrian security forces have "now running into heavy resistance: Awaiting them are anti-tank traps and fortified barriers, manned by protesters with heavy machine guns." On Aug. 14, 2011, DEBKAfile reported: " NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish High Command are now drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating tanks and helicopters (...). Instead of repeating the Libyan model of air strikes, NATO strategists thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, mortars and heavy machine guns to the protest centers, to beating back the regime's armored forces. " ( )

Finally, Britain's Daily Star reported earlier this year that, "Agents of MI6 and the CIA are already in Syria assessing the situation. Special Forces are also talking with Syrian dissident soldiers " -- the paper considers the term "deserters " too pejorative. They wanted to find out "what is happening and are finding out what kit dissident soldiers need."

On a Web page of the "Elite UK Forces," it says: " More recent reports have stated that British and French Special Forces have been actively training members of the FSA, from a base in Turkey. Some reports indicate that training is also taking place in locations in Libya and Northern Lebanon. British MI6 operatives and UKSF (SAS/SBS) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms and equipment. US CIA operatives and special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels. "

Pepe Escobar of Asia Times reported similar facts. Diplomats in Brussels have confirmed to him that NATO and the GCC armed forces have set up a command center in the southern Turkish city of Alexandretta. Officially, these are to be used to create a "humanitarian corridor" to Syria. The French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine and the Turkish daily Milliyet reported, however, that commandos of the French secret service and the British MI6 have already trained FSA fighters in urban guerrilla warfare techniques in Hatay in southern Turkey and in Tripoli in north Lebanon. Weapons -- from shotguns up to Israeli machine guns and rocket launchers -- were smuggled into Syria in large numbers. According to Escobar it is no secret that have since the beginning of the protest movement in Syria, armed gangs from Salafists to criminals have attacked regular soldiers, police officers and even civilians.

Memories of Afghanistan

According to Israeli sources in DEBKAfile, in Brussels and Ankara they are also considering a campaign to recruit thousands of volunteers from the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would accept these volunteers and then train them and ensure their passage to Syria. Such plans remind us of the recruitment of Mujahideen by the CIA to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. In early February DEBKAfile reported that the first foreign troops in Syria had begun operating in direct support of rebel militias.

According to DEBKAfile's exclusive military and intelligence sources, British and Qatari special forces are operating along with undercover rebel groups in the Syrian city of Homs, only 100 miles from Damascus. The foreign troops do not directly fight with the Syrian armed forces that are shelling various parts of Syria's third largest city with 1.2 million inhabitants. They are tactical advisers, take care of the communication channels and relay rebels' demands for weapons, ammunition, fighters and logistical assistance to the foreign supporters, mainly in Turkey. DEBKAfile: " This site is the first to report the presence of foreign military forces in any of the Syrian uprising's embattled areas. Our sources report the two foreign contingents have set up four centers of operation - in the northern Homs district of Khaldiya, Bab Amro in the east, and Bab Derib and Rastan in the north. Each district is home to about a quarter of a million people. "

The information is from DEBKAfile, which, since it allegedly expresses the views of the Israeli intelligence services, should always be viewed with caution. The reports of operations of NATO special forces in Libya, which the portal also published very early last year, however, have all been confirmed.

A longer version of this article with its sources can be found on the author's Internet blog:

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