US seeks to expand assassination drone attacks to Syria
The CIA is considering a secret contingency plan to expand the US assassination drone strikes to Syria, former and current American officials say, Press TV reports.
The officials said the Counterterrorism Center, which runs CIA's drone operations in Pakistan and Yemen, has recently tasked some of its agents to collect further intelligence on the situation in Syria, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.
The targeting officers, who are based at CIA headquarters in Langley, have formed a unit with US intelligence agents in Iraq, to examine purported threats against "the US' interests in Syria," the report said.
The unit is closely working with Saudi, Jordanian and other regional spy services, according to the report.
The CIA and the White House have declined to comment on the issue.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,627 and 3,457 people have been killed by US drones in Pakistan alone since 2004.
Some former CIA officials expressed skepticism about the nature of Washington's new contingency plan, saying no evidence substantiates existential threats against the US' interests in Syria.
The news comes on the same day as the summit of EU leaders in Brussels failed to reach an agreement on lifting the body's arms embargo on Syria to facilitate the flow of weapons to militants.
Although the US publicly claims that its role in Syria is merely limited to providing food and medical supplies to the anti-government militants, Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List revealed on March 7 that the US has coordinated weapons shipments from Croatia to the militants in Syria.
According to the report, 3,000 tons of weapons in 75 planeloads have been transfered from Zagreb to the militants in Syria via Jordan and Turkey. The weapons were reportedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the request of the US.