NEW YORK – Thousands of jihadist fighters have mobilized in Turkey and Jordan, ready to storm into Syria if the U.S. begins a bombing campaign, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The Islamic militants, fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, are being directed in part by Turkish, Saudi and Jordanian military staff, according to the security officials.
Al-Qaida and its affiliated organizations are known to be within the rebel ranks. The security officials said the jihadists waiting to advance into Syria include members of the al-Qaida-affiliated Jihadiya Salafiya group.
The information comes amid the increased likelihood of U.S. military action, with both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry presenting the case against Syria today.
Obama said he was considering a “limited” attack, while Kerry spoke of “clear” and “compelling” evidence that Assad gassed his own people.
The White House released a four-page intelligence document it said was based in part on communications intercepts concluding Assad’s regime had “carried out a chemical weapons attack” outside Damascus, killing more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children.
“Read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources,” stated Kerry. “This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.”
Obama, meanwhile, warned against inaction.
“It’s important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal,” he said.