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CIA Aids Huge Arms Smuggling to Syria.

Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- The CIA reportedly has a hand in clandestine supply of arms to Syrian rebels by the Persian Gulf States, a report said.

At least 3,500 tons of arms and ammunitions have been delivered to Syria, some ending up on the black market, with the Turkish government's role as an active player, a media report said.

The flow of arms continues with the help of US agents, the New York Times said.

The newspaper cites air traffic data, US and foreign officials and rebel commanders in its investigation.

The airlift reportedly began in early 2012 with a Qatari Emir Air Force C-130 transport aircraft flight. Saudi Arabia and Jordan have joined in November, when it became a major operation. More than 160 military flights have landed in Turkey over the time. Esenboga Airport near Ankara was the prime destination, but others were also involved, the newspaper claims.

"A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment," Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told the newspaper. He added that it appears as a "well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation".

Indeed, CIA agents have a direct input on the deliveries, albeit mostly consultative, NYT added.

The spy agency reportedly helps with procurement of weapons in Croatia and vets Syrian rebel groups, which would receive the weapons.

The involvement was supposedly motivated by the fact that the Arab states would supply arms to the Syrian militants anyway.

"There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade," Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham told the newspaper.

Instrumental to setting up the operation was, CIA Director David H. Petraeus until November, the official said. He had prodded various countries to work together on it.

The scale of the operation increased considerably in November, after the Turkish government agreed to it, the report said. The tipping point may also have been the presidential election in the United States.

Ankara reportedly has oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the arms through Turkish territory and across the border. Some in Turkey said Ankara is de facto at war with Damascus because of its involvement in the conflict.

"The use of Turkish airspace at such a critical time, with the conflict in Syria across our borders, and by foreign planes from countries that are known to be central to the conflict, defines Turkey as a party in the conflict," said member of the Turkish Parliament from the CHP opposition party Attilla Kart, who confirmed details about several Saudi shipments. "The government has the responsibility to respond to these claims."

Still, rebel commanders complain that they do not receive enough weapons and do not get heavier kinds of weapons like anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Mar 26, 2013
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