West Steps Up Aid to Syrian Opposition

News Brief – August 20, 2012

In opposing U.S. demands for the imposition of a ‘no-fly’ zone over Syria, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that foreign military intervention in the conflict would eventually lead to ‘catastophe’. 
Lavrov’s comments come as mounting evidence emerges of Western military assistance to the Syrian opposition.
Beyond the provision of arms and ammunition, this comes in the form of vital intelligence on Syrian Army movements, enabling opposition fighters to successfully stage ambushes or evade assaults from Syrian government forces.
The intelligence comes from British Army signals listening posts on the nearby island of Cyprus.
The UK owns two military bases on Cyprus. They monitor regional airwaves and report to the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), Britain’s national electronic surveillance center in Cheltenham.  
In addition, further intelligence is gathered  by German intelligence officers stationed in ships off the Syrian coast, monitoring government and army communications.
The intelligence from both sources is then passed on to Turkish and U.S. intelligence officers in Turkey who relay it onto Free Syrian Army command groups in the country. From there it is relayed on to opposition fighters inside Syria.     
So even if NATO military units aren’t overtly participating in the Syrian conflict yet, Western intelligence is actively involved. Intelligence is vital in any conflict and providing the Syrian opposition with signals intelligence on the movement of government forces is one step away from the actual provision of military forces.
Beyond supplying weapons and intelligence however, numerous reports have surfaced pointing to the covert involvement of Western Special Forces in the conflict. ‘Former’ British Special Air Service members are already reportedly training Syrian opposition fighters in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
This follows a familiar pattern. Just as eight serving members of the SAS were seized on a covert mission in Libya shortly before Gaddafi was overthrown earlier this year, the participation of the SAS, whether ‘serving’ or ‘former’ members, usually prefigures more overt involvement.
As far back as August 2011 a high-ranking Special Forces officer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina disclosed the active involvement of Western Special Forces in Syria.  
In the face of Russian warnings about ‘foreign involvement’ however, the West has been forced to keep its involvement in the conflict under wraps. At least for the time being.
Nonetheless, at some point in the near future Western military involvement in Syria will inevitably be more widely disclosed. Even if it’s not officially acknowledged, the West’s involvement in the Syrian conflict will then put it on a direct collision course with Iran and Russia.
Both Moscow and Tehran have indicated that they will not sit idly by and watch Assad overthrown. Meaning that repeated reports of covert Western involvement in Syria are likely to prefigure a much wider conflict; a real witches brew involving: the West, Israel, Syria, Iran and Russia.

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