Photo: US Navy
Special Operations Forces from numerous countries were on the ground in Syria as of December and the island of Cyprus would be the main base for an air strike against Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, according to internal Stratfor emails published by WikiLeaks.An email dated Dec. 7 of last year recaps meetings attended by an analyst that day.
The analyst writes that he spent most of the afternoon at the Pentagon with the U.S. Air Force strategic studies group— “guys who spend their time trying to understand and explain to the USAF chief the big picture in areas where they’re operating in”— that consisted of four men at the Lieutenant Colonel level, including one French and one British representative.
“After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [i.e. reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces… They have been told to prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months, but they still stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.”
They then discuss the option of an air campaign in Syria and what its objectives would be, saying the situation “makes Libya look like a piece of cake” because of the geography and Syria’s robust air defenses.
“The main base they would use is Cyprus, hands down. Brits and French would fly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and how much recce comes out of there… There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve.”
As more emails are published, the potential credibility of Stratfor’s network of informants becomes clearer. Reports with information attributed to a source often come with a name, description, source reliability rating, item credibility rating, special handling and a handler.
One email report (sent on Dec. 10) describes its source as “Former NSC official in Turkey, adviser to Erdogan” and provides detailed information about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s operation for colon cancer as well as Turkey’s plan to create conditions for civil war in Syria (by deploying Special Operation Forces).
Another from the same day cites a Reuters correspondent of Syrian-Jordanian heritage when passing along information about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s mother being “disappointed in Bashar and [his brother] Maher for the mess that they have created.”
Stratfor provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. defence Intelligence Agency.
WikiLeaks has published 729 out of what they say is a cache of 5 million internal Stratfor emails dated between July 2004 and December 2011 obtained by the hacker collective Anonymous around Christmas.
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