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Are Western Special Operators Already Inside Syria?

by John Reed on March 6, 2012

Well then. Western special operators may well be on the ground in Syria covertly conducting reconnaissance missions and training rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al Assad, much like Western SOF troops did in Libya last year, according to the STRATFOR documents that were recently published by Wikileaks.

Apparently, a STRATFOR analyst sat down with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Strategic Studies Group — a team of four Air Force lieutenant colonels along with one French and one British officer — at the Pentagon and then wrote up a quick report claiming the SSG boys implied that Western operators are on the ground in Syria.

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 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.”

This sounds an awful lot like the earliest reports we had of Western troops secretly operating inside Libya before NATO air forces began pummeling Gadhafi’s Army one year ago this month. We already know that the U.S. is moving to get the Syrian rebels humanitarian aid and possibly comms gear now that the U.S. is “aligned with enabling the opposition to overthrow the Assad regime.” These western troops on the ground could also open a door for arms shipments to the rebels, if things come to that.

The report goes on to say that any air campaign against the Syrian government would likely use the Brits’ bases on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus as one of its launching pads.

From Business Insider:

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 wouldfly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and howmuch 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.”

Let’s hope the UK has enough smart bombs stored on Cyprus that it won’t run out of precision weapons if it attacks Syria, you know, the way some NATO members did during the air war against Gadhafi. That was embarrassing.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim March 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm

They will never know… Muah.. huah… huah…


guess March 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I feel like politically its to late.
Al Qaeda is supporting the rebellion. To what capacity is yet to be seen. But with the way things stand I can’t picture any politician over looking that fact.


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Well, we collaborated with Al Qaeda to support the Kosovo Liberation Army in the '90s…strange bedfellows.


TMB March 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Kinda hard to constantly talk about wanting freedom for everyone, but then have a fit on how someone attains that freedom – especially if you're dragging your feet on whether or not to help.


crackedlenses March 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Something to note is the route Iran has taken. We installed a autocrat (the Shah) who was deposed by the "people", and 50 years later the people are protesting the government they apparently wanted over the Shah.

Perhaps our hesitancy is stemming from uncertainty that the people in question will keep their freedom for any appreciable period of time. Much of our inteference, after all, has been as much about protecting our interests as bringing freedom and democracy….


TMB March 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

"Much of our inteference, after all, has been as much about protecting our interests as bringing freedom and democracy…."

It would never fly politically, but I wish we could just be honest about it and tell the world we're really only interested in other countries having self determination if we think they'll use it in a way beneficial to us.

TMB March 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm

"50 years later the people are protesting the government they apparently wanted over the Shah."

That's all Levis, Apple, and Pepsi's fault if you believe Iran's rulers.

TMB March 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Someone once said "If someone is making a deal with the devil, maybe it's because he's the only one offering."

Personally, I'm on the fence whether or not these interventions are our business, but I think it's hippocritical of us to have fits when we talk about "everyone deserves freedom" then monday-morning quarterback how they achieved that freedom. Wanting freedom and wanting western-loving democracy are not the same thing.


dddd March 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Sounds plausible. I do feel like not many operators, despite their ridiculous amounts of heroism and courage, would frown upon training rebels deep inside Syria. I think it is more likely they would at least be confined to the northern regions, or maybe southern Turkey?


dddd March 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

*many operators. Kinda changes the meaning a bit.


Ahmad July 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

If you speak to anyone from the special operations community you learn fast that there are SF in every country in the world. The is no such thing as a "neutral country". If the place exists, we have people there.


TaskForceGreen August 13, 2013 at 5:42 am

god i hope we get involved…as a private sec contractor, we need to constantly be at war…i know i will be hated for saying that, but if any of you knew TRULY how much evil in this world needs to be stomped out (whether its 'our business" or not) then you would agree…
If Syrians attacked the US, you'd be beggin for us to bomb them to glass….

Point is, who cares??? There are sooooo many vets who just want to return to combat because they know nothing else and dont want to die spending their lives at Lowes picking out furniture..
So what if war is hell? Its always been that way…you thnk if we "bring our boys home" (such a joke of a statement…such a hippie thing to say….HALF DONT EVEN LIKE ThE IDEA OF GOING HOME!!) that it will "stop all the hate" or "stop the war"?? We already opened pandoras box here, gents…they want our blood. Striking pre-emptively as fast as possible is the best idea. I hope we go into Syria, Libya, Nigeria (especially them…those sick f**ks…they eat childrens still-beating hearts for fun cuz they think it gives them power against bullets), North Korea, Iran, etc etc…
If it was up to me, we'd continue standing up against the bullies of this world for as long as we could…..no matter what our resources' strain was.


Ross March 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm

the chance to swing the local political landscape is on a plate with the syrian crisis right now. I'd take it no matter how difficult it is via the international system (russia and china) is to achieve it.


Tom March 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Isn't this just Grand News? We all saw how well things went in Libya.
Let these animals kill each other, it will be less for us to fight later


kim March 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Nice to see an American side with the governments of Russia and China….


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm

This has fractured party ideologies quite comically. Not every Republican wants to intervene in Syria…many of the masses want to leave all the Middle East to their own devices and just nuke the bad guys (or if they're of opposing ideology, letting democracy do its job…hah). Activists want to intervene to reshape the MidEast.


Jay March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

"leave all the Middle East to their own devices…"

That's the problem with the isolationists. The middle easterners are making devices of the nuclear sort. We can't leave them to their own devices or they will be used on us. It's not november 1941 anymore, someone should tell Ron Paul.


dddd March 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm

They're humans, douche.


Lance March 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Once again President is helping the enemy the Islamic Brotherhood as taken over the movement and want to make a Islamist state out of Syria. In NO way we should even say support to these creeps who killed our men in Iraq years ago.

Let Assad wipe the Islamist out.


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Chances are Assad was funneling weapons from Iran to lebanon to strike Israel. Or that he turned a blind eye to Al Qaeda using his country as a staging ground to attack American forces.


blight_ March 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

Then again, the whole mideast can be such a realpolitik hotbed it can boggle the mind.

The Syrian people are majority sunni and run by an Alawite (Shia/Sufi group). They're aligned with Iran to occupy Lebanon and suppress Israel. If we depose the Alawites, the Sunnis take control. Who's to say it won't be a sharia-state? If so, we depose Assad and we get another sharia-state…and it's not like those align well with the US. The Saudis (our friends) support the Sunni people, even if they turn into a ruling party that labels the Saudis as collaborators with Crusader America ("Great Satan" is a term used by those evil Iranian unbelievers).


TMB March 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm

It's the Assad family playbook to wipe out entire villages to get one or two terrorists. And I'm pretty sure most of these rebels are not members of Al Qaeda.


Lance March 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

Sorry TMB you do not know Middle Eastern history that The Islamic Brotherhood has been the defacto enemy of the Assad regime for decades most fighter claim to want to create a Islamic state like Iran is if they can take over. While yes Syria is hostel to Israel the Islamic brotherhood in power would ensure a never ending war for ever since they will never accept Israel or any none Islamic country to exist. Sorry you guys I know you like John McCain want the US to invaded every nation on earth to spread democracy but were not doing that any more in Afghanistain to Liby the even badder guys are taking over.


TMB March 7, 2012 at 1:36 am

When did I say I wanted to invade Syria? I didn't take a side. I pointed out earlier that our foreign policy tends to be hypocritical. Here I was just pointing out how bloodthirsty the Assad family can be. Look up Hama in 1982. The elder Assad surrounded Hama with tanks and artillery almost wheel to wheel and spent 3 weeks bombing and raiding the city to kill the Muslim Brotherhood insurgents that were trying to take it over. His brother was in command and killed between 20,000 and 40,000 people and bragged about it. The younger Assad is now raiding Hama with tanks killing dozens every week. Whether we should intervene is another discussion. I was just disputing your assertion that everyone Assad kills is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.


TMB March 7, 2012 at 2:20 am

I know my history just fine thank you. Did I ever say I wanted to invade Syria? In my earlier post I pointed out that we play games with assisting other countries and bugs the hell out of me. I didn't take a side, I just wished that we'd be honest about our intentions. In this post, I pointed out that in 1982 the elder Assad surrounded Hama with tanks and artillery almost wheel to wheel and spent 3 weeks bombing the city killing 20-40,000 people to root out the Muslim Brotherhood insurgents in that city. Assad's brother was the general in command of the attack. He boasted that he killed 40,000 people and didn't think he killed enough. That same city is getting raided and shelled again this time around by the younger Assad.


Jay March 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

Well Lance, I agree to a point…
When Assad does fall he will probably be replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood led government, see eg Egypt.

However, In Iraq the surge eventually won the Sunnis over to our cause and got them involved in the government. The major problems we had then was with the Shiites, supported by Iran. Assad is also supported by Iran.

So perhaps we should help the sunnis to fight the shiite backed Syrian forces. There are more sunnis than shiites after all.


Morty March 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm

just take out there leader and let their people figure out what they want to do on there own


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Let's take out Saddam. Who's in charge? Oh, Uday. Let's take him out. Oh, it's Qusay. Let's him out. Now it's Chemical Ali. Who's next?


KarlW March 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Guys! Leave the strategy to those who know something about it! Like, I don't know, have been at a war college?
(And please, learn how to spell!)


KarlW March 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

BTW: you do realize that calling the British "Brits" is the same as calling Americans "Yanks"? Just asking.


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Beats calling us infidels.


TomUK March 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Personally, I never say 'Yanks'. I always say 'ex-colonials'.


jason March 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm

yes! they are there. Stupid question…


passingby March 7, 2012 at 1:30 am


Whenever there is chaos, violence, starvation, economic turbulence, mass murder etc in the Middle East, you can bet the ranch that there have been promoters (agents / operatives) from the US, the UK, France, and Israel working on it for months if years.

It's almost like a natural law now.


tiger March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Wikileaks is a damn menace. This info is putting operators at risk.


TMB March 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm

And one of their primary sources just got nominated for the flippin Nobel Peace Prize.


passingby March 7, 2012 at 1:21 am

you a menace to the criminal syndicate known as the NATO headed by the mafia governments in the US, the UK, and Israel.


passingby March 7, 2012 at 1:26 am

you MEAN a menace to ….



crackedlenses March 8, 2012 at 12:36 am

I'll let you ask Saddam and his gang about it when you meet them after death; :p ……


passingby March 8, 2012 at 1:19 am

you ask him when you meet. I already know the answer.

I'll interrogate your God or his/her/its deputies why they'd let so many blatant, atrocious war crimes happen on earth. I might even join a class action suit against GOD and his/her/its staff for criminal negligence and / or being accessories to the war crimes.


blight_ March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

Wikileaks wouldn't have anything if some servicemen kept their mouths shut.

"Apparently, a STRATFOR analyst sat down with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Strategic Studies Group — a team of four Air Force lieutenant colonels along with one French and one British officer — at the Pentagon and then wrote up a quick report claiming the SSG boys implied that Western operators are on the ground in Syria.
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 missions and training opposition forces…"


guest September 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Wikileaks needs to shut down NOW!!!


raid March 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm

What about the French SF that were apparently captured last week


brok3n March 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

It bothers me how OPSEC is always stressed among mil members, but is thrown out the door once in the hands of some other 'gov' official or 'anonymously' given to the media to sell to some news outlet for a headline at the risk of its sources lives. Where is the accountability??


Jeff M March 7, 2012 at 2:28 am

I know stratfor sounds official, but I've read a book by Friedman (founder/leader of stratfor) and he's full of wild speculation. The think tank is just speculating, wildly, kindof like a blog comment board does. He sells books, and appears on TV and stuff like that, not an official branch of government not by a long shot, he doesn't speak for anyone but himself.


Sarek March 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

And agains western empires crush another country sovereign.


shellback99 March 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Where did you learn English? The al queda school of enlightened thought?


LMo March 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Guys honestly,specops tend to work on Thing at least 6-8 Prior to any conflict that comes to the Public eye. Rest assured,they already there….probably longer then we think…


Antonius Bauwens April 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

Yes we are..


Dennis June 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I hope they are on the ground and that they smokecheck any AQ infulenced groups after Assads guys fall…they are probably full intending on using this rebellion to get in w/ those groups and learn who the AQ leadership elements are that are supporting the rebels, then BAM!!
We got em…I mean, why not? Its a good method.
But back to OPSEC, its ridiculous. personally i think US SOF should go to Wikileaks HQ and just grab them by the throats


blight_ June 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Wikileaks has been out of the game for some time. Get with the program. New leakers.


crackedlenses March 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Hopefully it will be enough to keep them out of trouble for the time being; we will have our hands full here at home as time passes…..


So? March 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

So AQ is evil only if it kills Americans?


blight_ March 6, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Hey, you read my memo.

Gaddafi is fun and friendly when he's renouncing WMD and telling us he'll git them Al Qaeda in Libya. Assad is fun and friendly when he keeps those crazy Sunnis in line (Alawites forever!).

And then once the spectre of Al Qaeda fades…


crackedlenses March 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm

That would definitely be a more honest assessment; other countries freedom may also come as a a side effect of our efforts against a large threat (see: Cold War conflicts).

I don't see anyone not wanting other countries to have the same freedom that we do. Too many times, however, that freedom results in our international interests being harmed in some way. I don't see why it has to be that way, honestly….

Or, we could listen to Ron Paul and this whole thing would be a non-issue. The rest of the world would go from hating us to gleefully overrunning all the countries we've been propping up, but at least we don't have to keep invading people…..


Jay March 7, 2012 at 10:03 am

Actually, the political theory to promote democracy for peace is based on the fact that statistically speaking, democracies don't go to war with each other. There are some outliers, but generally it's true.

But it turns out that embyonic democracies are very vulnerable to subversion from Islamists and communists, so usually when we try to promote democracy by regime change we end up with Islamists or commies in charge, and those guys like to make war on democaries.


blight_ March 7, 2012 at 12:27 am

I've yet to be called a Yank. I don't know enough people from the UK. I'd probably be a little confused, more confused than offended.


DhuntAUS March 7, 2012 at 12:39 am

How dare they call you Britts for short ! if someone calls me Aussie i will flip. . . .Sarcasm. :P


passingby March 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

statistics from the US government or the US propaganda apparatus?

the US has been constantly at war with some other countries (including democracies) ever since WWI.

the US is still in Iraq and Afghanistan illegally. Now the US is scheming on Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, …

Oh I forgot, the US is NOT a democracy in the real sense of the word … my bad.


TMB March 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Update your rants there passingby. We left Iraq a few months ago. Scheming in the business of other democracies? Maybe/probably. Dropping warheads on foreheads? No.


TMB March 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Um, no. In my "there are no troops in Iraq but the ones guarding the embassy mind." Really dude? It's not classified information.


TMB March 8, 2012 at 3:23 am

Seriously? Eddie Griffin is your intel source?


passingby March 8, 2012 at 4:30 am

What do you mean by offending your decency, Mat Stu?


TMB March 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Those bases he's going on about by the way, are state department consulates, not military bases. State and USAID operate out of them with small contracted security detachments – no soldiers. Conventional military deployments are a matter of public record. If you've got actual evidence that we're still occupying Iraq, I'd love to see it.


passingby March 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm

again, in your ignorant, naive, gullible mind.

why don't you take a close to the "evidence" you are using to make your claims.

thanks for the laugh!!


passingby March 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm

edit: meant to say: …. take a close LOOK at the "evidence"


TMB March 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm


So besides childish taunts, do you have anything useful to contribute?


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