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WASHINGTON – The Sunni opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is Alawite, an offshoot of Shi’ism, is getting financing and massive shipments of arms from the Sunni Gulf Arab states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of which receive their arms from the United States and other Western countries, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The weapons apparently are arriving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.
Sources add that an increasing number of the opposition also is al-Qaida, which puts the U.S. in the position of being in league with the terrorist group to oust al-Assad.
Yet, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently had expressed concern that al-Qaida was infiltrating into Syria.
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri previously had ordered al-Qaida into Syria to oust the embattled president and his government.
According to the open source group Stratfor, the Syrian rebel force in the Idib governorate, which borders Turkey’s Hatay province, is thought to be one of the strongest and best-equipped rebel forces in Syria and is attacking regime forces.
Hatay also is the location of most of the Syrian refugee camps that serve as the headquarters for the Free Syrian Army.
Turkey provides a refuge for the rebels to retreat to in case they are overwhelmed by Syrian government forces.
The rebels are said to be equipped with new anti-tank missiles, which the large number of destroyed Syrian army tanks and armed fighting vehicles suggest.
The influx of al-Qaida and other jihadist fighters from other countries, especially the Sunni-dominated Western-most provinces of Iraq, also reveals an uptick in the use of improvised explosive devices.
They were so effectively used against U.S. troops in Iraq. For its part, the Syrian army will rely more on artillery and the large number of Mi-17 Hip and Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, many of which were recently returned from refurbishment in Russia.
The use of attack helicopters will help prevent the large number of civilian casualties which have outraged the international community.
Unless the opposition can acquire Stinger-type weapons of ground-to-air missiles to attack the helicopters, the al-Assad regime is confident it can prevail, in addition to taking advantage of the split in the opposition over leadership.
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