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British help for Syrian rebels

20/08/2012
Assad Democracy!

Assad Democracy! (Photo credit: FreedomHouse2)

British intelligence enabled Syrian rebels to launch devastating attacks on President Assad’s regime, official says

Britain has two sovereign military bases in Cyprus at Dhekelia and Akrotiri. They draw intelligence from the airwaves for GCHQ, Britain’s listening post in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The opposition official said rebel forces in Aleppo had also received US satellite imagery, which the Turks had passed on from the CIA.

MI6 and the CIA are understood to be tacitly condoning the supply of heavy machineguns from Gulf countries to the rebels.

The rebels claim to have shot down at least two helicopters, part of a fleet used by Assad’s regime to try and crush the growing rebellion. But they do not have enough to be effective.

One diplomat denied that the British were ‘facilitating’ the supply of heavy machineguns. But he said he could not rule out the possibility that private contractors financed by countries such as Qatar were involved in providing arms. Wealthy families in Qatar and Saudi Arabia are understood to be providing substantial financial support to the rebel forces.

Opposition fighters also benefit from the monitoring by British bases of ships along the Syrian coast from countries friendly towards Assad.

Britain has officially ruled out giving any covert help to the rebels. It is understood that William Hague, the foreign secretary, has been advised that it would be illegal under international law for Britain to supply weapons directly to any group in Syria, which is covered by a European Union arms embargo.

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