US bolsters ties to Syrian rebels

American diplomats have stepped up their contacts with Syrian rebels in a bid to help them organise military operations.

Updated: Jun 14, 2012, 15:17 PM IST

Washington: American diplomats and intelligence operatives have stepped up their contacts with Syrian rebels in a bid to help them organise their increasing military operations against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, senior US officials have claimed.

According to the officials, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and State Department, working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies, are helping the opposition group Free Syrian Army (FSA) to develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training.

US officials also are considering sharing intelligence with FSA to allow the rebels to evade pro-Assad forces, which are believed to be getting intelligence, arms and communications support from Russia and Iran, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The paper quoted the officials, as saying that the US’ stepped-up links with the FSA are also part of an effort to gain a better understanding of the rebels` capabilities and of the identities and allegiances of fighters spread in disparate groups across the country.

The US officials remain wary of some rebels` suspected ties to hard-line Islamists, including elements of al Qaeda.

According to the paper, they acknowledge the FSA doesn’t represent all parts of the insurgency against the Assad regime.

The CIA`s heightened role is seen by some as a sign of growing US seriousness about the military effort against the Assad government.

American officials also believe that added pressure could force the regime to agree to a ceasefire.

According to the paper, details of the deepening US involvement emerge as many international and local observers say Syria`s deadly 15-month conflict has reached new lows.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday warned that ‘the situation is spiralling toward civil war.’