LE FIGARO (France), BBC
PARIS - Specially-trained Syrian rebel fighters, alongside US, Israeli and Jordanian forces, have crossed the border into Syria as an unprecedented assault begins against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, French daily Le Figaro reports Friday.
The newspaper cites military sources saying the operation began last week in the southern Syrian region of Deraa. The sources say that some 300 Syrians, as well as an unspecified number of Israeli, Jordanian and CIA commandos, crossed the border from Jordan into Syria on August 17, before a second group entered the country two days later.
Le Figaro reports report that military camps have been established at the Jordanian border by the US to train select members of the Free Syrian Army. This would allow the US to intervene without actually sending troops on the ground or arming the rebels.
Interviewed by Le Figaro, specialist from the French Institute of Strategic Analysis (IFAS) David Rigoulet-Roze predicts that Washington may now consider the idea of a no-fly zone above Syria’s southern areas to allow them to keep training rebels to overturn the current regime. It would also be the reason why the US sent Patriot Missile Batteries and F16 airplanes to Jordan in June.
Le Figaro says the operation may have been a motive for the alleged chemical attack on Wednesday that has reportedly killed 1,300 people near Damascus. Last July, President Bashar al-Assad’s spokesman publicly declared that the regime wouldn’t use chemical weapons in Syria, unless a “foreign assault was to take place”.
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Le Figaro's front page on Friday
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has said that if the allegations of the chemical attack are confirmed it would be a "big event of grave concern (that would) require America's attention," the BBC reports.
Russia on Friday urged both the Syrian government and rebels to cooperate with UN inspectors trying to verify the reports of the chemical weapons attack.