NATO COMMANDOS IN ILLEGAL SPECIAL OPS IN SYRIA

The Stratfor Leaks: NATO, Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria

GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE FILES: SPECIAL FORCES ON THE GROUND IN SYRIA
Undercover NATO troops are already in Syria despite denials from their parent governments, according to a leaked brief from a highly-placed analyst.

The information comes from a hacked email from leading private US intelligence agency Stratfor, whose correspondence has been released by Wikileaks since February 27. The email appears to be written from the address of Reva Bhalla (bhalla@stratfor.com), the company’s director of analysis, for internal use, and details a confidential Pentagon meeting in December. The consultation is alleged to have been attended by senior analysts from the US Air Force, and representatives from its chief allies, France and the United Kingdom.

Western powers have categorically denied military involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, for which they have no international mandate. But if the information contained in the letter is reliable, a radically different picture of Western activity in Syria emerges.

The author of the letter claims that US officials “said without saying that SOF [special operation forces] teams (presumably from the US, UK, France, Jordan and Turkey) are already on the ground, focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.” A little later the US army experts expand on the role of the undercover commandos: “the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within.”

Alawites are a minority Islamic sect, to which Syrian President Bashar Assad and his support base belong. For the past year he has battled an insurrection that has united a range of opponents, from pro-democracy activists to radical Sunni Muslims.

There have been previous allegations of a Western presence on the side of the rebels and on Monday 13 French officers were reportedly captured by the loyalist forces.

Despite the commandos’ already wide remit, the email states that the US experts “stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.”

If confirmed, the information will give ammunition to Russia and China, who have accused Western powers of paving the way for an invasion of Syria. These fears have already been cited as the reasons the two countries vetoed the US-backed UN resolution on Syria in February.

­US and allies wary about air strikes

The majority of the December meeting was dedicated to discussing the possibility of a US aerial attack on Syria, and offers an unvarnished glimpse into US foreign policy thinking.

The letter reports military experts as saying that the US has a “high tolerance for killings” and will not execute air strikes on Assad’s regime “unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Gaddafi move against Benghazi.”

The strikes themselves would be “doable” but “the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake.” All the same, a US Air Force intelligence officer is described as “obsessed with the challenge of taking out Syria’s ballistic missile capabilities and chem [chemical] weapons.”

On Monday, Republican Senator John McCain called for an air strike on Syria, But the following day, President Obama spoke out against “unilateral action”, noting that the situation in Syria was not as clear cut as in Libya.

If the US does end up staging another military intervention, it is not clear how much support it would receive. The French representative said to the author that “Syria won’t be a Libya-type situation in that France would be gung-ho about going in. Not in an election year.” Meanwhile, Britain would be “reluctant” on the one hand, but on the other is “looking for ways to reassert itself on the continent [Europe]” following the renegotiation of the EU treaty.

This is the latest in a line of revelations from the 5 million emails obtained by Internet hacker group Anonymous in December and passed to Wikileaks, which is currently publishing them on a drip-drip basis. While Stratfor refuses to comment on the emails, it has not been able to refute their authenticity.

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Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria

A security operation in Homs reveals Mossad, CIA and Blackwater are involved in the military violence in this part of Syria, as over 700 Arab and Western gunmen and Israeli, American and European-made weapons were detained in Baba Amr district.

­Syrian security forces got yet further proof of Western powers’ military involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, reports Al-Manar, a news agency, affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group and political party.

Around 700 gunmen were recently arrested in the former rebel stronghold of Babar Amr.

“The captured gunmen held Arab nationalities, including Gulf, Iraqi, and Lebanese. Among them were also Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, and some European countries like France,” the agency quotes Syrian expert in strategic affairs Salim Harba as saying.

Harba also confirmed to the agency that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf – specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

The Syrian expert also added the security forces have also seized Israeli-, European- and American-made weapons.

“The Syrian army also uncovered tunnels and equipments there,” he told to the agency, “advanced Israeli, European, and American arms that have not yet been tested in the countries of manufacture, in addition to Israeli grenades, night binoculars, and communication systems were confiscated by the security forces.”

Salim Harba however said the Syrian authorities are not planning to reveal all the obtained information now, but assured all the evidence is of high value.

“The Syrian security forces have documents and confessions that could harm everyone who conspired against Syria, and could make a security and political change, not just on the internal Syrian level, but also on the regional level,” he said.

The recent Stratfor leak and hacked email of the company’s director of analysis also suggest undercover NATO troops are already on the ground in Syria.

There have been previous allegations of a Western presence on the side of the rebels as 13 French officers were reportedly captured by the loyalist forces earlier in March.

President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly claimed his regime is fighting not with peaceful protesters as claimed by the West, but with the military gangs supported by the West.

Western powers however have categorically denied any military involvement in Syrian internal conflict.

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13 undercover French army officers seized in Syria

Thirteen French officers have been captured by the Syrian Army, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper. It claims it received the information from a pro-Syrian Palestinian in Damascus.

­According to the source, the officers were taken captive in the city of Homs – the heart of the internal conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and insurrectionists – and are being held in a field hospital there. The source claims the French and Syrian governments are locked in negotiations over the fate of the men.

If confirmed, it would be an embarrassment to France. However the French Foreign Ministry has categorically stated that there are no French soldiers in Syria. Perhaps more intriguingly, the Ministry of Defense has not issued an outright denial, saying instead that it has no knowledge of the situation.

Official Damascus has similarly refused to comment.

Despite imposing ever-tougher sanctions on Syria, the West has consistently denied that it has troops on the ground, although there have been occasional rumors. There have also been several reports of NATO powers supplying arms to the rebels.

If the information is proven to be correct, however, it will give rise to speculation over what exactly the French officers were doing in the war-torn country.

The most obvious assumption is their involvement in the rescue of French journalists last week. Reporter Edith Bouvier and three other Westerners were holed up in a journalists’ compound in Homs which came under heavy fire before a special operation rescued them. But in an interview earlier today, one of the journalists, photographer William Daniels, denied this: “I never saw any French troops during this operation. We were only with Syrians from the rebel army. We owe our escape to them.”

More speculatively, the French troops could have been giving military guidance to the rebels, who floundered when fighting the better-organized army forces. While this is not unprecedented, the French officers have no international mandate to participate in this internal conflict.

Although at the moment none of this can be independently verified, any potential negotiations will be made more difficult by the fact that France said last week that it is closing its embassy in Damascus, symbolically severing diplomatic relations with the al-Assad regime.

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