US sends drones over Syria as fighting spreads
By Alex Lantier
20 February 2012
US military officials confirmed Saturday that US drones are flying over Syria, as fighting spreads inside the country and US officials discuss military or “humanitarian” intervention to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The drone flights, which flagrantly violate Syrian air space, include a “good number” of both military and US intelligence drones, according to US defense officials. These officials said the drones’ mission is to obtain “intercepts of Syrian government and military communications in an effort to ‘make the case for a widespread international response.’”
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz also reported Saturday that Syrian forces had captured 40 Turkish intelligence operatives working with the “opposition” inside Syria. It said the Turkish operatives confessed to working with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to train the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), and claimed that Mossad operatives were working with Al Qaeda operatives in Jordan planning operations in Syria.
This echoes testimony Thursday before the US Senate Armed Services Committee by US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He said that recent bombings in Damascus and Aleppo “had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack. So we believe that al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.”
As in last year’s war in Libya, Washington is seizing on violence between the Assad regime and US-backed opposition forces—which are organizing protests and killings inside Syria—to justify military intervention.
Significantly, the US relied extensively on former Al Qaeda fighters of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to topple Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and it appears a similar relationship is being established in Syria.
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