Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels

Members of the Free Syrian Army

From Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, Reuters:  Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run "nerve centre" working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

"It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," said a Doha-based source.

"The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes."

The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added. . . .

Adana is home to Incirlik, a large Turkish/U.S. air force base which Washington has used in the past for reconnaissance and military logistics operations. It was not clear from the sources whether the anti-Syrian "nerve centre" was located inside Incirlik base or in the city of Adana.

Qatar, the tiny gas-rich Gulf state which played a leading part in supplying weapons to Libyan rebels, has a key role in directing operations at the Adana base, the sources said. Qatari military intelligence and state security officials are involved.

"Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," said a Doha-based source.

Ankara has officially denied supplying weapons. . . .

Sources in Qatar said the Gulf state is providing training and supplies to the Syrian rebels.

"The Qataris mobilized their special forces team two weeks ago. Their remit is to train and help logistically, not to fight," said a Doha-based source with ties to the FSA.

Qatar’s military intelligence directorate, Foreign Ministry and State Security Bureau are involved, said the source. . . .

A former U.S. official who advises a government in the region and other current and former U.S. and European security officials say that there has been little to zero direct assistance or training from the U.S. or its European allies.

The former official also said that few sophisticated weapons such as shoulder-fired bazookas for destroying tanks or surface-to-air missiles have reached the anti-Assad forces.

While some Gulf officials and conservative American politicians have privately suggested that a supply of surface-to-air missiles would help anti-Assad forces bring the conflict to a close, officials familiar with U.S. policy say they are anxious to keep such weapons out of the hands of Syrian rebels. They fear such weapons could make their way to pro-jihad militants who could use them against Western aircraft.  (photo: PressTV/Iran)

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