Nawaf Fares, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq who defected last week, has told the Sunday Telegraph that recent bombings in Syria attributed to al-Qaeda were carried out with the cooperation of Syrian security forces:
“All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces,” he said. …
“Al-Qaeda would not carry out activities without knowledge of the regime,” he told the Sunday Telegraph’s Ruth Sherlock, in an interview July 13th. “The Syrian government would like to use al-Qaeda as a bargaining chip with the West – to say: ‘it is either them or us’.” [...]
Fares’ position, first as a provincial governor, and then, since 2008, as Syria’s first envoy to Iraq in 26 years, would seem to have given him a unique vantage point for the claims. The US-led coalition forces in Iraq long asserted that Syria was actively facilitating the travel to Iraq of al-Qaeda linked militants through its territory.
“After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the regime in Syria began to feel danger, and began planning to disrupt the US forces inside Iraq, so it formed an alliance with al-Qaeda,” Fares told the paper. “All Arabs and other foreigners were encouraged to go to Iraq via Syria, and their movements were facilitated by the Syrian government. As a governor at the time, I was given verbal commandments that any civil servant that wanted to go would have his trip facilitated, and that his absence would not be noted. I believe the Syrian regime has blood on its hands, it should bare responsibility for many of the deaths in Iraq.”
Syrian government “liaison officers” still deal with al-Qaeda, he also said.
(Via War in Context. YouTube video above of Fares speaking to CNN.)