Sunday, 19 August 2012
BRITISH intelligence on Syrian troop movements has enabled rebels to launch devastating attacks, including an ambush on a column of 40 army tanks.

The disclosure by a Syrian opposition official is the first indication of British intelligence playing a covert role in the civil war.

The official said the British authorities “know about and approve 100%” signals intelligence from their Cyprus bases being passed through Turkey to the rebel troops of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus. It’s very useful because they find out a great deal,” the official told The Sunday Times.

“The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we are getting it from the Turks.”

According to the official, the most valuable intelligence so far has been about the movements of troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad towards the stricken second city of Aleppo, which is partly controlled by rebels.

“The British monitor communications about movements of the government army and we got information about reinforcements being on their way to Aleppo. We hit at the government troops in Idlib and Saraqib [southwest of Aleppo], with success,” the official said.

Early this month FSA fighters had reported that two large columns of government troops were heading towards Aleppo. One was from Latakia on the Mediterranean coast and the other from Damascus, the capital. The fighters did not reveal the source of their intelligence at the time.

“We ambushed troops and a column of more than 40 tanks in a valley near Saraqib. We cut them off and destroyed many of them with repeat attacks with rocket-propelled grenades,” the official said.

Britain has two sovereign military bases in Cyprus at Dhekelia and Akrotiri. They draw intelligence from the airwaves for GCHQ, Britain’s listening post in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The opposition official said rebel forces in Aleppo had also received US satellite imagery, which the Turks had passed on from the CIA.

“We’ve had access to it for more than a month now. What the Turks give us is limited but it’s made a difference in Aleppo,” the official said.

MI6 and the CIA are understood to be tacitly condoning the supply of heavy machineguns from Gulf countries to the rebels.

The rebels claim to have shot down at least two helicopters, part of a fleet used by Assad’s regime to try and crush the growing rebellion. But they do not have enough to be effective.

One diplomat denied that the British were “facilitating” the supply of heavy machineguns. But he said he could not rule out the possibility that private contractors financed by countries such as Qatar were involved in providing arms. Wealthy families in Qatar and Saudi Arabia are understood to be providing substantial financial support to the rebel forces.

Opposition fighters also benefit from the monitoring by British bases of ships along the Syrian coast from countries friendly towards Assad.

“The intelligence we’re getting is on Russian ships using the base of Tartus, whether they’re ferrying arms or not,” the official said. “We’ve also been told about visits by Chinese and Iranian ships.”

Britain has officially ruled out giving any covert help to the rebels. It is understood that William Hague, the foreign secretary, has been advised that it would be illegal under international law for Britain to supply weapons directly to any group in Syria, which is covered by a European Union arms embargo.

A former Foreign Office lawyer said Britain was not barred from acting as a broker by putting the rebels in touch with people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are already providing money and weapons.

“If you have MI6 or the CIA being middlemen, it’s probably fine. They are not supplying or arming the rebels. It’s legally possible but politically contentious,” the lawyer said.
Source: Sunday Times (£)

Bild also has a story about a German spy ship cruising off the coast of Syria, monitoring troop movements of the pro-regime forces and passing information about them on to the jihadist rebels. A BND [German intelligence] official is quoted as saying:
We can be proud of the important contribution we're making to the collapse of the Assad regime.
Source: Bild

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Salafists outraged by plastic gun that supposedly threatens Aisha.

http://www.businessnews.com.tn/Des-pistolets-en-plastique-terrorisent-les-salafistes-tunisiens-,520,32936,3

Anonymous said...

This is impossible. Just goes to show how far infiltration has gone, and what grip it has got on the politicians/media in each of our countries.

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