The US spy chief has told the Congress President Bashar Al-Assad is fighting against Al-Qaeda of Iraq. James Clapper is the first top US official to acknowledge US might indirectly support insurgents.
Since December there have been Bombings in Damascus and Aleppo that “had all the earmarks of an Al-Qaeda like attack,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
He added that Syrian opposition groups, fighting against the existing regime of President al-Assad may have been infiltrated by Al-Qaida. “However likely without their knowledge”, he said.
Clapper said the lack of a unified opposition group could leave a power vacuum that extremists could fill if the Syrian government falls, a potential development he called “troubling.”
His comments confirmed earlier reports that US officials suspected Al-Qaeda’s hand in the bombings last week which left dozens dead.
The leader of Al-Qaeda has voiced his support for the Syrian uprising. In an eight-minute video posted on Sunday on a jihadist website, Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels.
However the US and its allies continue to hold on to a one-sided stance.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly called on Syrian President Assad to step down.
The anti-Syrian government resolution addressed only one side of the conflict failing to condemn the opposition for their part of the violence as it does condemn the government. Washington and mainstream media insist the Syrian government is fighting against peaceful protesters.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently called for “friends of democratic Syria” to unite against the regime. And to convene on February 24th to work out ways to further squeeze the Assad regime and bring Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country together.
While the White House calls mostly for political and humanitarian support, some of the US politicians propose the direct arming of the opposition.
Republican Senator John McCain has openly called for the supply of guns to Syrian insurgents, urging the White House to take action.
“We should start considering all options, including arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop,” he said following Syria’s withdrawal of its diplomatic mission to Washington.
Given the disclosed information, the US Intelligence Chief was more cautious about the possible actions in the region.
He expected Al-Qaeda’s role, rifts within rebel ranks, and the presence of chemical weapons would “affect any discussion [[about]] coming to some assistance” in support of the opposition.
“Arming the opposition in Syria – it has been happening all the time. Upgrading the armament of the rebels is going to lead to ten times the number of people killed. What these people need to realize that there is a large proportion of the people in Syria, of Syrians basically, who do not want the central government to collapse,” Ammar Waqqaf, a member of the Syrian Social Club, a pro-government group supporting reform, told RT.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition hasn’t missed a chance to call for international support, stressing the urgent need for military aid.
There are suspicions the US may already be supplying weapons to the opposition through its Arab allies. And with Al-Qaeda now present in the region, this could mean indirect supply of arms to a long-fought enemy in the War on Terror.