There is a very curious story from a Croatian news source today. It claims there were 75 plane loads of arms flown from Zagreb to Syrian rebels from November to February. The article also claims that Britain was involved in their shipment.
I’ve only been able to read the story using Google translate and I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the allegations nor do I know the authority the news source, so there are some very big “ifs” to be applied to this, but IF true it almost certainly means:
1. Defence Minister Philip Dunne knew about the shipments when he refused to answer my not unreasonable question on 25th February.
2. Foreign Officer Hugo Swire was either aware of the situation when he said he would write to me on 4th March, or his department hadn’t briefed him comprehensively. Either way the situation is reprehensible.
3. More importantly, if the story is true it shows that Britain is part of a covert operation to arm rebel forces. This runs counter to the impression given by William Hague who said earlier in the week:
“I informed the House in January that we would seek to amend EU sanctions on Syria to open up the possibility of further assistance if the situation deteriorated. On Thursday, we finalised with our European partners a specific exemption to the EU sanctions to permit the provision of non-lethal military equipment and all forms of technical assistance to the Syrian National Coalition where it is intended for the protection of civilians.”
His whole contribution in the Syria Statement is here.
The full story can be seen in Google Translate mode at JutarnjiLIST
The key sections (that could really do with proper translation by a Croatian speaker) are here:
In the period from the beginning of November last year to February this year, from Zagreb airport Pleso flew a total of 75 civilian transport aircraft which was carrying weapons for the Syrian rebels, Morning newspaper learned from diplomatic sources. These planes, besides Croatian arms, transported weapons, and from other European countries, whose collection organized United States.
Until recently it was believed that a senior Croatian officer with U.S. counterparts, of which he wrote the New York Times, arranging transport excess Croatian obsolete weapons to Syrian rebels. However, according to reliable diplomatic sources, the plan of arming Syrian rebels had a much broader context.
Specifically, U.S. officials have hired partners – Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey in the operation of arming Syrian regime opponents. The United States organized a collection of weapons, Saudi Arabia has been paid, and Jordan and Turkey were transporting weapons that are then transferred to the Jordanian territory to Syria.
Croatia’s role was twofold. It is part of their surplus weapons – rocket launchers M79 and RPG-22, hand grenade launchers RBG-6 and M60 recoilless guns aside from their warehouse. Unknown quantity of weapons to Syria went in early November last year with the Zagreb Dance Turkish A310 planes. However, the dance was brought by the American organization and weapons from several European countries, including Britain, which then transport planes Jordanian International Cargo shipped to Jordan and then to Syria.
So one could say that the dance was a few months international hub for transporting weapons to Syrian rebels. As the planes used to transport A310 and Ilyushin 76MF, it is estimated that over 75 flights transported about 3000 tons of various weapons and munitions.
I am extremely grateful to the laser beam focus of the blogger Brown Moses for bringing this to my attention.