CIA Sends Weapons to Syrian Forces Amidst Ongoing Tension
The U.S. is finally making good on its promise to Syria's rebel forces.
Over the past two weeks, the first Central Intelligence Agency weapons shipments have finally started to arrive after months of delays. The U.S. has provided Syria's opposition forces with light weapons and other traceable arms. The shipments also include forms of non-lethal aid, like medical aid kits, vehicles, and spruced up communications equipment.
The shipments began arriving as tensions between the U.S. and Syria's leadership, President Bashar al Assad and his regime, remain high. The U.S. is still hashing out whether or not to engage in a military strike against the country as payback for the regime's use of chemical weapons in an attack on rebel-held territory. For their part, Syria's leadership has said they will accept a plan from Russia to hand over and disassemble their chemical weapons in order to avoid military action.
When it comes to Congressional approval over whether or not to strike, a sticking point for some leaders has been that the resolution did not go far enough to include helping rebel forces. Sen. Bob Corker went as far as calling the lack of promised arms support for the rebels thus far "humiliating." "The president had announced that we would be providing lethal aid, and not a drop of it had begun. They were very short on ammunition, and the weapons had not begun to flow,” Corker said.
An opposition official told the Washington Post that weapons provided by the CIA don't "solve all the needs the guys have, but it’s better than nothing,” and noted that the U.S. has still not agreed to provide the opposition with exactly what they want, which are antitank and antiaircraft missiles.
The latest efforts are focused on aiding rebels fighting under Gen. Salim Idriss, commander of the Supreme Military Council. In May, the U.S. worked with the Supreme Military Council to supply high-calorie food packets to the rebels. The partnership made them feel that their provided aim could be targeted at moderate opposition troops rather than being used to support the al Qaeda forces littered throughout Syria's opposition.