Russia Collaborating With US Military To Stop Intervention Against Syria
February 17, 2012 • 6:46PM

Under the banner headline, "Guns & Glory in Syria: Al Qaeda, US Recipe for Disaster," Russia Today covers Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's testimony on the involvement of Al Qaeda in the Syrian opposition. The thrust of the story is that despite this revelation, the Obama Administration and its allies, both in the Congress and in the UN continue to demand Assad's overthrow.

That Al Qaeda is active in Syria and was likely behind suicide bombings in Damascus in December, and in Aleppo earlier this month, was first reported by McClatchy News on Feb. 10, which quoted unnamed intelligence officials saying that Al Qaeda in Iraq was likely responsible for suicide bombings that occurred in Damascus in December and Aleppo earlier this month. The substance of the story was all but confirmed by Clapper to the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing.

In response to questions from Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Clapper described a Syrian opposition that is mostly outside the country, and is torn by an internal feud over who's going to lead it. In addition, there are many cases where the opposition is local inside Syria." He noted that the suicide bombings were all targeted against security and intelligence facilities and "had all the earmarks of an al-Qaeda like attack. And so we believe that al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was asked about Clapper's testimony during a joint press conference with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, yesterday afternoon and expressed "concern" about reports that Al Qaeda may be making inroads in Syria. "It means that I think we have to continue to work with the Arab League and determine what steps should be taken to try to deal with the situation in Syria," he said. "It does raise concerns for us that al-Qaeda is trying to assert a presence there, and that means that, you know, frankly, our concerns, which were — which were large to begin with because of the situation, the deteriorating situation in Syria — that the situation there has become that much more serious as a result of that."

When asked a followup question on whether or not the US could support an opposition in Syria that includes Al Qaeda, Panetta replied: "I think a lot remains to be seen as to exactly what their role is before we come to that conclusion. I think, you know, just the fact that they're present concerns us. As to what their role is and how extensive their role is, I think that still remains to be seen."