ADAM ENTOUS, JULIAN E. BARNES and SIOBHAN GORMAN
Wall Street Journal
March 12, 2013
WASHINGTON—The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.
The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist network’s affiliate in the country, has close ties to Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an opposition militant group that has attacked government installations and controls territory in northern Syria. The State Department placed al Nusra on its list of foreign terror organizations in December, calling the group an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq.
In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.
This article was posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 11:16 am