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Qatar and CIA tighten coordination of arms flows to Syria

May 15, 2013
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Source: Chicago Tribune

Qatar, which has taken a lead in arming the Syrian opposition, is coordinating with the CIA and has tightened control of the arms flow to keep weapons out of the hands of al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters, according to rebels and officials familiar with the operation.

With Britain and France discussing lifting an EU ban on arming the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, Western countries are concerned about making sure no arms end up in the hands of groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, which has pledged support for al Qaeda and which Washington considers a terrorist group.

Rebel fighters in Syria say that in recent months the system for distributing arms has become more centralized, with arms being delivered through opposition National Coalition’s General Command, led by Selim Idriss, a general who defected to the opposition and is a favorite of Washington.

Qatar mostly sends arms to rebels operating in the north of Syria, while Saudi Arabia, another rich Gulf Arab kingdom, sends weapons to fighters operating in the south, several rebel commanders said.

 

“The Qataris are now going through the Coalition for aid and humanitarian issues and for military issues they are going through the military command,” a commander in northern Syria interviewed from Beirut said.

“Before the Coalition was formed they were going through liaison offices and other military and civil formations. That was at the beginning. Now it is different – it is all going through the Coalition and the military command.”

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