Syrian pilots said to be flying Libyan fighter jets
Thursday, March 10, 2011 E-Mail this story Free Headline Alerts
WASHINGTON — Opposition sources said Syrian Air Force officers were flying some of the MiG-23 and MiG-25 fighter-jets ordered to attack rebel-held towns in Libya. They said at least one Syrian Air Force officer was killed and identified after his plane was downed.
Syria has sent weapons and other military equipment to the Libyan regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the opposition sources said.
Syrian opposition sources said the regime of President Bashar Assad has approved the deployment of hundreds of fighters to Libya as well as air and anti-tank munitions to Gadhafi. They said Syrians have also served as pilots for Gadhafi's fleet of MiG fighter-jets.
Other opposition sources said Syria was relaying weapons to Al Qaida-aligned elements in Libya. They said Iran and Syria were believed to be cooperating in seeking to extend their influence over Libya's giant energy reserves.
"Assad of Syria is sending arms to Gadhafi of Libya to kill his people with," the Reform Party of Syria said.
The Assad regime has denied the reports of both the Syrian and Libyan opposition. But Western diplomats said the reports of Syrian intervention were being taken seriously.
In a statement on March 6, RPS, based in Washington, did not elaborate on Syria's involvement in Libya. RPS said Assad was believed to have decided to help quell the Libyan uprising to prevent a similar threat to his regime.
"Assad is reasoning Gadhafi must win to discourage the Syrians from any reckless behavior such as seeking freedom, democracy, and accountability," RPS said.