US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at a Berlin event on Tuesday, Febrrary 26, 2013.
The US is planning a major expansion of its support for terrorist gangs in Syria engaged in a foreign-backed armed insurgency aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Obama administration, according to US media reports, is considering a “major policy shift” on Syria that may at least lead to supplying the anti-Damascus militants with apparatus such as armored vehicles, body armor, night-vision goggles and even military training.
Aspects of the new US policy will reportedly be finalized following discussions between US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on a 9-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East, and American allies in the two regions on the internal Syrian crisis, which has turned increasingly bloody through the steady influx of arms and foreign terrorist elements from abroad.
Asked on Tuesday about the likelihood of expanding American military support of the anti-Assad militant gangs inside Syria, Kerry did not rule out the prospect, saying that “he would not speculate on the outcome of the meeting with opposition leaders,” according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday.
“We’re going to Rome to bring a group of nations together precisely to talk about this problem,” Kerry was quoted as saying. “I don’t want to get ahead of that meeting or ability to begin to think about exactly what will be a part of it.”
Kerry was referring to his talks in London and Berlin on Monday and Tuesday with his British, German and Russian counterparts, as well as upcoming talks on Thursday during a so-called Rome Conference with other allies and leaders of armed anti-Damascus militants, referred to in Western press reports as “Syrian Opposition Coalition.”
This is while Western officials have clearly acknowledged that the “opposition coalition” is highly unlikely to develop a “governing infrastructure” or attract much support from “fence-sitting Syrian minorities,” according to the Post’s report.
The report further cites American and European officials as raising growing concerns that the armed opposition militants in Syria are dominated by al-Qaeda-linked terrorist elements with plenty of emerging evidence documenting their atrocities in the key Middle Eastern country.
Despite such concerns, Kerry vowed in a London press conference on Monday that Washington is “determined” to back the anti-Damascus armed militants in a bid to change ground events in favor of the alleged terrorists.
“We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming, and we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad,” he said, in what was widely described as an unusually undiplomatic rhetoric by the top US diplomat.
The tough remarks came following a well-publicized threat by the US-backed anti-Assad opposition to boycott the Rome conference in protest to “negligible help” offered by the West.
Reports further noted that Kerry and US Vice President Joseph Biden called their propped-up “leader of the Syrian opposition coalition” Moaz al-Khatib “and persuaded him to attend” the Rome Conference.
The development also comes amid another report that US-sponsored kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Jordan have joined in a major purchase and transport of heavy weapons from Croatia to the anti-Assad militants in Syria.
In a Tuesday report, the influential New York Times
daily further pointed to the American role in the weapons deal but noted that US officials, including those at the CIA spy agency declined to comment publicly on their roles, citing “sensitivity of the [arms] shipments.”
The report also cited a “Washington official” as saying that the flow of Croatian arms to the Syrian militants followed a US visit by a “senior Croatian official” last summer, “suggesting to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.”
This is while the daily had previously reported that US officials were quite sensitive about being identified as a direct supplier of arms to anti-Damascus rebels in Syria but instructed its Persian Gulf Arab allies to finance and ship non-American weaponry to the Syrian insurgents.