Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers in Turkey have told journalists that arms have been reaching the FSA through Turkey over the last few days, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. This followed a two-month total stoppage of arms supplies to the rebels from across the northern border.
A leading FSA member, speaking on a condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the first batch of arms delivered to the FSA will include 102 OSA anti-aircraft missiles, to be followed by another 270.”
Despite rumors on pro-Assad social media pages that parts of Aleppo had fallen into the hands of the regime paving the way of taking the city, Syrian rebels say they do not expecting Aleppo to suffer the same fate as Qusayr, mainly due to the strong Sunni presence in the areas surrounding the city, which provide logistical support to the rebels.
Meanwhile, reports from Turkey say that 71 Syrian army officers have defected from the government’s forces in the last 36 hours. FSA spokesman Qasim Sa’ad Al-Din said he could not confirm the report.
FSA sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the defecting officers who arrived in Turkey are under interrogation for four days at the headquarters of Turkish security services, which is the normal practice in these cases.”
The sources said “they expected more defections as a result of the change in the international stance on Syria, which agreed to arm the rebels.”
The Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials saying the CIA were preparing to send arms to the Syrian opposition via bases in Jordan and Turkey, in an effort to create a secure passage to deliver non-lethal weapons to the Syrian opposition.
The bases are expected to start delivering limited quantities of weapons to the opposition within weeks. This is a substantial development in the American position on the Syrian conflict, which has seen the advantage shift to the Assad regime in recent weeks.
In another development, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that any attempts to impose a no-fly zone in Syria, using Patriot missiles and F-16s based in Jordan, will be considered a violation of international law.
The Pentagon has said that American Patriot missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets will remain in Jordan following the end of this month’s joint military exercises. Pentagon spokesman George Little said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “has agreed to Jordan’s request for the F-16s and the Patriot missiles to remain in the country.”