Central intelligence Agency (CIA) and its partners in the middle East has developed a plan for strengthening the moderate opposition in Syria with more serious weaponry in that case, if the truce in the country will be disrupted. About this The Wall Street Journal said officials from the U.S. and other countries.
According to interlocutors of the newspaper, the preparation of the so-called “plan B” focuses on supplying the rebels with weapons that will allow them to strike Syrian aircraft and artillery positions.
The WSJ first reported on the preparation of a “plan B” on Syria at the end of February this year. According to the newspaper, leaders of the Pentagon and the CIA had expressed doubts that the Russian military will abide by the terms of the armistice, and sought from the administration of President Barack Obama proposing an alternative strategy. As the paper explains, there have been recently clear details of the plan.
Preparation of a “plan B” was discussed at a secret meeting of the heads of intelligence services of countries in the Middle East before the commencement of the ceasefire on 27 February, and also during contact investigations. According to familiar with the deliberations of officials during these meetings, the members of the coalition against the Islamists received assurances from the CIA that they will get approval to extend support to the Syrian opposition.
However, as noted by the WSJ, the coalition members agreed only on the “contours” of the plan, a final list of specific weapons must be approved by the White house. The CIA also emphasized that arms transfers will be possible only in case of failure of the truce and the resumption of hostilities. “The agreement is necessary to ensure that, if necessary, to raise the stakes,” explained a senior U.S. official.
According to interlocutors of the newspaper, U.S. officials conveyed a personal message to Russian colleagues. It notes that a return to full-scale fighting could eventually compromise the Russian pilots.
Other officials said that during personal meetings with colleagues from Russia, Secretary of state John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan, who in March visited Moscow, warned of the possible escalation of the conflict, with the breakdown of the truce. “If the truce will be broken if the agreement is no to what will not and we will return to full-scale civil war, the situation will not change dramatically, said a senior official of the Obama administration, commenting on treatment to Moscow. – Outer protectors will double or triple its efforts in Syria throwing everything you can, including more number of lethal weapons”.
According to the WSJ, the CIA’s attention focused on man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS). The Agency believe that the rebels received a small number of installations through illegal channels. In the exploration fear that the complexes can fall into the hands of terrorists who used them against civilian vessels, so at the moment intelligence agencies seek to prevent their uncontrolled spread. U.S. allies offered to celebrate special weapons sensors that will track their movements, or to limit the duration of their work, however, the White house reacted to this idea without enthusiasm
The newspaper also notes that the decision about what type of weapons to give the rebels, a difficult one for the Obama administration. According to officials in the middle East, recently the CIA has allowed a few groups to get a Soviet jet system of volley fire BM-21 (9К51 “Hail”), while the number of complexes is small.
Officials claim that the CIA and its partners are considering various options of air defense systems, including the complexes of the Soviet era, which are less mobile. In this case alternatives, such as MANPADS, which are installed on vehicles are easier targets for Syrian and Russian aircraft, say the interlocutors familiar with the situation.
In mid-March, the UN special envoy for Syria Stephan de Mistura, has denied the existence of any “plan “B” on the Syrian conflict, in addition to the negotiations in the Geneva format. Information about the existence of such a plan was denied by the Russian foreign Ministry. Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, in turn, declared that to speak about such a plan too early.