FSA intelligence officer also complains US failing to provide weaponry despite assurances it won’t fall into jihadist hands
BY ELHANAN MILLER, TOI, May 14, 2014,
Free Syrian Army fighters clean their weapons and check ammunition at their base on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, November 14, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)
The Free Syrian Army could tactically collaborate with Israel in toppling the Assad regime, as long as such cooperation is carried out in utter secrecy, a senior FSA officer told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
The intelligence officer, who defected from the Assad regime in September 2012, spoke from Amman on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his current position.
He said that he has conveyed detailed assurances to the US that advanced weapons requested from the West would not fall into jihadist hands, but that the US nevertheless continues to withhold such weapons.
In talks with the American embassy in Amman immediately following his defection, the officer conveyed FSA requests for the transfer of portable American surface-to-air Stinger missiles and advanced anti-tank weaponry to confront the Assad regime, but to no avail.
“Some [anti-tank] TOW missiles have leaked in, but not enough to decide the battles or turn the tide,” he said. “We need these weapons in order to topple the regime, while preventing the jihadist organizations from remaining in Syria.”
A few months ago, the FSA — the largest moderate rebel faction, which has been fighting Islamist rebels as well as regime forces — put together a detailed mechanism for ensuring that the advanced weapons won’t fall into hostile hands, he said. An official FSA committee would be established to receive the weapons, entrusted with registering their serial numbers and video documenting every time they are used on the battlefield. The FSA also offered to return the empty ammunition cases to their providers.
Free Syrian Army fighters hold their weapons during heavy clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 (photo credit: Andoni Lubaki/AP)
Free Syrian Army fighters hold their weapons during heavy clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria, on Sunday, January 20, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Andoni Lubaki)
“We came up with this mechanism after the Americans delayed their reply. We began to fear the jihadist and Salafi movements, so we devised this system ensuring that the weapons don’t fall [into hostile hands]. If they did, they would be used against us, the Free Syrian Army.”
But even without transferring weapons, the US could do much more to aid the FSA and thwart the regime’s daily airstrikes against civilian targets, the officer said. A no-fly zone could be imposed, the aircraft’s communication systems could be disrupted, and intelligence regarding regime movements and weapon stashes could be provided to the FSA.
“Honestly speaking, the regime is still standing strong thanks to external support,” he said. “Besides the support [for the Assad regime] from Iran and Russia and their allied organizations, we sense that the West is also to blame. The US, which is the strongest democratic superpower, should live up …read more