NSA report says Saudi king Prince Salman bin Sultan ordered attacks by Syrian rebels in 2013

According to a National Security Agency (NSA) report released by The Intercept, the rocket attacks in March 2013 in the Syrian capital Damascus were ordered by a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Salman bin Sultan, to help mark the second anniversary of the Syrian revolution. The report said Salman had provided explosives and other weaponry to Opposition forces and instructed them to "light up Damascus” and "flatten" the airport.

NSA report says Saudi king Prince Salman bin Sultan ordered attacks by Syrian rebels in 2013

File image of Saudi king Salman bin Sultan. Reuters

According to Al-Arabiya, Syrian rebels said that they had fired mortar bombs at the presidential palace, the Damascus International Airport and security buildings. A statement by the Syrian Opposition said rebels groups had fired "a number of 120 mm heavy calibre mortars... in a joint operation coordinated with battalions operating in Damascus."

The claims could not be verified because of restrictions on journalists in Syria, the report added.

The Intercept report also said that the Saudis wanted to unseat President Bashar al-Assad and Salman was one of the key officials responsible for prosecuting the war in Syria. The NSA document, provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, points to how deeply these foreign powers would become involved in parts of the armed uprising. According to ZeroHedge, the NSA report is sourced to the intelligence agency's controversial PRISM programme — which gives the NSA the ability to sweep up all communications and data exchanged through major US internet service providers.

A US document based on surveillance of "Opposition plans and operations," showed that American spies found out about the attacks several days before they were launched. While it is not known who all received arms from the Saudis, the videos of attacks posted by the Opposition showed different groups identifying themselves as different factions of the 'Free Syrian Army,' The Intercept report added.

It also said that a rebel commander identified as the member of the Free Syrian Army was seen on the camera as saying that the attack was "in memory of the second anniversary of the Syrian revolution," similar to what the Saudi king had said.

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Updated Date: Oct 25, 2017 16:46:31 IST

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