Operation Timber Sycamore

danmanjones's picture

Syrian War: Truth about US & Saudi Involvement MSNBC

>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore


Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by various Arab intelligence services, most notably that of Saudi Arabia. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. According to U.S. officials, the program has trained thousands of rebels.[1][2] President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013.[3] However, the CIA had been facilitating the flow of arms from Libya to Syria "for more than a year" beforehand in collaboration with "the UK (United Kingdom), Saudi Arabia and Qatar."[4]



The program's existence was suspected after the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website publicly solicited contract bids to ship tons of weaponry from Eastern Europe to Taşucu, Turkey and Aqaba, Jordan.[5] One unintended consequence of the program has been to flood the Middle East's black market with weapons including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.


The U.S. delivered weapons via Ramstein - supposedly in breach of German laws.[6]






CIA director David Petraeus first proposed a covert program of arming and training rebels in the summer of 2012. Initially President Obama rejected the proposal, but later agreed, partially due to lobbying by foreign leaders, including from King Abdullah II of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[10]



Timber Sycamore began in late 2012[11] or early 2013, and is similar to other Pentagon or CIA-run weapons routing and training programs that were established in previous decades to support foreign rebel forces.[1][8] Greg Miller and Adam Entous of The Washington Post stated that "The operation has served as the centerpiece of the U.S. strategy to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside."[12] The program's principal backers are the United States and Saudi Arabia, but it is also supported by other regional Arab governments, and by the United Kingdom.[1][13] While Saudi Arabia provides more money and weaponry, the United States leads training in military equipment. The program is based in Jordan, due to that country's proximity to the battlefields in Syria.[1]



According to The New York Times, the program initially allowed U.S. forces to train Syrian rebels in use of military equipment, but not to directly provide the equipment itself. A few months after its creation, it was amended to allow the CIA to both train and equip rebel forces.[3] Salon.com reports that Saudi Arabia has provided billions of dollars in military equipment, and covert financing of rebel forces has also been provided by Qatar, Turkey and Jordan.[14]



Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the CIA smuggled thousands of weapons and millions of ammunition rounds to Syrian rebels in 2012 before the program's launch.[15] A classified U.S. State Department cable signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported that Saudi donors were a major support for Sunni militant forces globally, and some American officials worried that rebels being supported had ties to Al Qaeda.[14]


The existence of Timber Sycamore was revealed by The New York Times and Al Jazeera shortly after Jane's Defence Weekly reported, in late 2015, that the US Federal Business Opportunities website was soliciting contracts to ship thousands of tons of weapons from Eastern Europe to Taşucu, Turkey and Aqaba, Jordan.[5][16]


Timber Sycamore is run by the Military Operations Command (MOC) in Amman[13] and provides Kalashnikov assault riflesmortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles, night vision goggles, pickup trucks, and other weapons to prospective Syrian rebel forces. Many of the weapons are purchased in the Balkans or other locations in Eastern Europe, and then routed to Syrian rebel forces and training camps by Jordanian security services. CIA paramilitary operatives then train Syrian rebels in use of the weaponry.[1][17][13] According to The Daily Beast there are approximately 50 vetted rebel groups fighting in Syria that have received weapons or training through the program since late 2012,[11] though the exact number is not known.[18]


According to American officials, the program has been highly effective, training and equipping thousands of U.S.-backed fighters to make substantial battlefield gains.[2][19] American officials state that the program began to lose effectiveness after Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian Civil War.[19] David Ignatius, writing in The Washington Post, remarked that while the CIA program ultimately failed in its objective of removing Assad from power, it was hardly "bootless": "The program pumped many hundreds of millions of dollars to many dozens of militia groups. One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years."[8]


Timber Sycamore is distinct from another, discontinued Pentagon program established to train Syrian rebel forces to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[1][20][2]


U.S.-backed rebels often fought alongside al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front, and some of the U.S. supplied weapons ended up in the hands of the al-Nusra Front, which had been a major concern of the Obama administration when the program was first proposed.[10]

The program remains classified,[14][10] and many details about the program remain unknown, including the total amount of support, the range of weapons transferred, the depth of training provided, the types of U.S. trainers involved, and the exact rebel groups being supported.[18] However, The Canberra Times reported that two thousand tons of Soviet era weapons were delivered to Aqaba as recently as April 2016.[16]



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danmanjones's picture

The info above is just from Wikipedia. A timeline of modern cladestine US anti-Syrian activity going back way before 2011 is here (link).

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