The United States has suspended the delivery of nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition in northern Syria after concluding that some of it has fallen into the hands of extremist Islamic fighters, American officials said on Wednesday.
The decision was made after moderate Syrian rebel forces reporting to Gen. Salim Idris, the nominal head of the rebel Free Syrian Army, came under attack last week from fighters aligned with Al Qaeda, according to an account provided by an American official.
There’s still no official account of last week’s attack, though there is apparently little reason to doubt that some portion of the nonlethal aid supplied to Syrian rebels has now fallen into the hands of groups that the United States does not wish to support. Government officials are reportedly also concerned with the continued fracturing of opposition forces.
14:43 // 10 months ago
The CIA could begin shipping arms to Syria in the coming weeks, after two US congressional panels cleared the way for the controversial transfer of weapons.
The White House announced in June that it would provide limited military support for vetted rebel groups, which have recently been struggling in their campaign against President Bashar al-Assad.
Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees have expressed concerns that arms could end up in the hands of Islamist militants fighting in the region – or not do enough to tip the balance in the civil war.
While the Obama Administration remains opposed to military intervention in Syria, many White House officials have apparently been working to convince influential members of Congress to back the decision to provide weapons to the Syrian opposition. Delivery of the weapons was expected several weeks ago; however, there’s been no official word on a cause for the delay at this time.
20:59 // 1 year ago
Iraq’s al Qaeda wing has united with a kindred Syrian group in the frontline of a struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad, sharpening a dilemma for nations that back the revolt, but fear rising Islamist militancy.
The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group had trained and funded fighters from Syria’s al-Nusra Front - which is blacklisted by the United States - since the early days of the two-year-old uprising.
He said in a statement posted on Islamist websites and seen by Reuters on Tuesday that the two groups would operate under the joint title of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
While the group’s work with other Syrian opposition forces is well-documented, the continued presence of al-Qaeda in Syria among rebel forces is unlikely to sway those debating whether or not to increase monetary/military support for those opposing the Assad regime.
15:07 // 1 year ago