CIA arms US-backed Syrian rebels

While the US-Russia deal to dismantle Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal may have put the plans for a military strike on hold, there are signs that a clandestine campaign by the US to arm the rebels on the ground via the CIA is gaining pace.

Administration sources told the New York Times and the Washington Post last week that the first shipments of arms promised to the rebels three months ago by the White House have now reached Syria. The sources also said that the first group of US-backed rebels has completed its training and is about to join the fighting.

It is unclear to what degree President Barack Obama is prepared to influence the balance of power in Syria, but the groundwork has now been completed. Israel has scaled back its objection to the move.

Last updated: 4:45pm, September 17 2013