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JERUSALEM – There is a growing collaboration between the Syrian opposition and al-Qaida as well as evidence the opposition is sending weapons to jihadists in Iraq, according to an Egyptian security official speaking to WND.
An Egyptian military attaché detailed the alleged collaboration between al-Qaida and the U.S.-aided opposition in Syria that operates under the banner of the National Free Army.
The purported cooperation extends to recent suicide attacks and bombings in Damascus and in the embattled Syrian city of Homs. The deadly attacks have been targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The military official told WND that Egypt has reports of collaboration between the Syrian opposition and three al-Qaida arms:
- Jund al-Sham, which is made up of al-Qaida militants who are Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese;
- Jund al-Islam, which in recent years merged with Ansar al-Islam, an extremist group of Suuni Iraqis operating under the al-Qaida banner;
- Jund Ansar al-Allah, an al-Qaida group based in Gaza linked to Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria.
The Egyptian military official said there is evidence the Syrian opposition is transferring some weapons to jihadist allies in both northern Lebanon and Iraq. Any weapons transfers to Iraq could potentially be used against the Iraqi government and U.S. or international interests in that country.
U.S. officials have stated the White House is providing nonlethal aid to the Syrian rebels while Middle Eastern security officials told WND the U.S. has been working with Arab countries to ensure the opposition in Syria is well armed.
Last week, the Washington Post reported the U.S is helping to bring more and better weapons to Syria’s rebels, including anti-tank weaponry.
The Post report claimed the U.S. has been coordinating the weapons shipments, with Persian Gulf nations picking up the tab.
In response to the report, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland denied that Washington was playing a role in arming the rebels.
“With regard to any assertions with regard to lethal (aid), we are not involved in that,” she said.
“The United States has made a decision to provide nonlethal support to civilian members of the opposition. This is things like medical equipment. This is communications, things to help them, first of all, deal with the humanitarian aspects but also to help them to communicate better so that they can plan and be ready for the period of transition that we expect and want to see in Syria,” Nuland said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney seemed to confirm knowledge that other countries are sending weapons to the opposition.
“We continue to provide nonlethal support to the opposition,” he told reporters. “And while I can only speak for the United States, we know that others are pursuing different types of support, and I’d refer you to them to characterize the nature of their actions.”
Egyptian security officials, however, outlined to WND what they said was large-scale international backing for the rebels attacking the embattled regime of Assad – including arms and training from the Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia being coordinated with the U.S.
Several knowledgeable Egyptian and Arab security officials claimed the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.
The security officials also claimed Saudi Arabia was sending weapons to the rebels via surrogates, including through Druze and Christian leaders in Lebanon such as Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Saudi-Lebanese billionaire Saad Hariri, who recently served as Lebanon’s prime minister, and senior Lebanese opposition leader Samir Farid Geagea.