Turkey has sent the Syrian rebels fighting in Aleppo their first shipment of shoulder-carried, anti-air FIM-92 Stingers, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. More are on the way to insurgent groups battling government forces around Damascus and other parts of Syria.
In Istanbul, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks Saturday, Aug. 11, with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian opposition figures, after which she announced US and Turkish intelligence services and military would set up a joint working team to plan for “many contingencies including the very horrible scenario of the use of chemical weapons.”
DEBKAfile’s US, Turkish and Israeli intelligence sources are taking into account that Bashar Assad will view the supply of Stingers to the rebels as a game changer that threatens to tip the balance of the war against him and respond with chemical warfare against the rebels, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.
In consideration of this menace, France last week flew a medical field hospital specializing in treating chemical poisoning from its medical base at Istres to northern Jordan and set it up close to the Syrian border.
Our sources also disclose that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to put Stingers in Syrian rebel hands came after Assad’s forces shot down a Turkish Air Force F-4 with Russian-made Pantsyr-1 air defense missiles over Latakia on June 22.