Plan B: US considered arming Syrian rebels against Russian planes & artillery, report says (Source rt.com)
The US administration has been secretly considering sending more firepower to CIA-backed rebels fighting Syrian government forces, including weapons that can be used against Russian aircraft and artillery, according to a media report. Citing US officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, the Washington Post reported the existence of a so-called ‘Plan B,’ which in case of “failed diplomatic efforts” provided for arming US-backed Syrian rebels with truck-mounted anti-aircraft weapons that could help rebel units “defend themselves against Russian aircraft and artillery.”
It says the plan was raised several times over the course of recent weekly White House meetings and was submitted to President Barack Obama during a National Security Council meeting on October 14.
The newspaper states, however, that ‘Plan B’ was “neither approved nor rejected,” with Obama reluctant to make any decision on the matter. New arms supplies to the so-called moderate opposition could lead to the deaths of Russian military personnel who have been aiding the Syrian Army, and this could in turn cause a direct confrontation with Moscow, which Obama has been trying to avoid.
While the plan reportedly had supporters in the form of CIA Director John Brennan and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, many were skeptical, including Secretary of State John Kerry.
White House sources also told the newspaper that the decision not to expand arms deliveries to Syrian rebels “reflects a growing skepticism”within the American administration regarding the expansion of a“covert CIA program,” through which it has been training and arming Syrian ‘moderate opposition’ over the past three years. This, in their words, has been the central element of the US strategy to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and force his resignation. The US has been supporting fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), founded in 2011 by officers of the Syrian Armed Forces who said their goal was to bring down Assad’s government. There have been a number of reports that the US-led coalition has been supplying FSA rebels with weapons, including surface-to-surface Grad rockets, especially after the Russian-backed offensive in Aleppo began. A US official told the Washington Post that the White House still considers the FSA the only force in Syria capable of prolonging the war and consequently succeeding in ousting Assad.