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Sunday, October 16, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Rebels using IEDs in attacks on Assad's forces

WASHINGTON — Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been targeted by roadside bombings in Syria.


The United States has determined that Sunni rebels, believed aided by Iraq and Turkey, were using improvised explosive devices to attack the Assad regime in Syria. The use of IEDs was said to have begun in mid-2011 and has steadily increased.

"We are seeing roadside bombs in some places," U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said. "This is a new phenomenon."

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In an Oct. 14 briefing to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ford said the rebels began to regularly use IEDs in attacks in July, Middle East Newsline reported. In an address from his office in Damascus, Ford said IED attacks were taking place around the country, including the suburbs of Damascus.

"It really only started in earnest in July and August, but it seems to be that it is becoming more pronounced," Ford said. "We are even seeing this in the Damascus suburbs."

More than 3,000 people have been killed in the revolt against Assad since March. Western diplomats said the casualty rate has been mounting as the opposition to the regime was turning increasingly violence.

"There are also now regular attacks on buses," Ford said. "Sometimes the buses carry civilians. Sometimes they carry soldiers."

The ambassador said anti-regime fighters were coming from neighboring Iraq. He also cited the increase in desertions from the Syrian Army, particularly in such cities as Dera and Rastan.

On Oct. 14, the Lebanese Army captured a weapons shipment believed ordered by the rebels in Syria. The official Lebanese National News Agency said the shipment, found in a van destined for Syria, contained rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

"We are seeing more violence," Ford said.

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