Turkey is employing a range of covert tactics to provide military assistance to Syrian rebels, but there's one thing it would really like at its disposal: American drones. That's one of the fascinating takeaways from a new Reuters exclusive about Turkey's secret dealings in war-torn Syria.
"The Turks have been desperate to improve their weak surveillance, and have been begging Washington for drones and surveillance," a sources tells Reuters' Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr. "The pleas appear to have failed."
It's a request that poses quite the dilemma for U.S. officials. On the one hand, they've been supportive of efforts to undermine President Bashar al-Assad's regime militarily. On the other hand, U.S. officials have been adamant about not wanting drone technology to get into the wrong hands. Regardless, sources tell Reuters that Turkey is now using "private guys" to do their surveillance work. The report says the country decided to step up its support for Syrian rebels after its plane was shot down by Syrian forces a few weeks ago. That includes building a "nerve center" of rebel support in the southern city of Adana where training and military aid is flowing to rebels courtesy Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. According to Reuters, the weaponry and training helps explain how a "rag-tag assortment of ill-armed and poorly organized groups, have pulled off major strikes such as the devastating bomb attack on July 18 which killed at least four key Assad aides including the defense minister." At least for now, it appears they'll have to do without U.S. drones.