For several weeks, the CIA has been operating along the southern border of Turkey, deciding which Syrian opposition forces will receive weaponry to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, The New York Times reports.
The arms, which include anti-tank weapons, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, are reportedly being funneled across the Turkish border into the hands of opposition fighters. In an attempt at keeping the weapons out of the hands of fighters linked to al-Qaida, the CIA is using a network of intermediaries, including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. The operation is being paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to The Times.
The Obama administration has denied that it has played a role in arming opposition forces, a position that was reiterated by President Obama at the G-20 meeting in Mexico this week. Russia, which has been providing armaments to the Assad regime, has accused the U.S. of arming opposition forces in the past.
“[The U.S.] is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week, reports USA Today. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied those claims.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been at the forefront for calling on the U.S. to arm the opposition, lambasting the administration for a lack of leadership.
“We need to do is make it a fair fight. It’s an unfair fight now,” McCain said on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday. “We need to give them equipment, working with other nations in the region. … [The Assad regime is] being supplied by the Russians with Iranians on the ground. And the fact that the United States of America is not helping these people and we can is shameful.”
In May, it was reported that the U.S. was working with regional allies, providing intelligence that could be possibly relayed to opposition forces.