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article imageOp-Ed: Thousands of former Assad police officers on US payroll

By Ken Hanly     Jul 29, 2013 in World
Damascus - Thousands of Syrian police who joined the rebels against Assad are on the payroll of the United States. Officials say the Obama administration has approved tens of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of the officers.
The officers are mostly in areas of northern Syria controlled by the rebels. While cities in the US are having trouble funding their own police forces and many areas face cuts, apparently the US taxpayer can fund foreign police officers particularly if that will help promote regime change in Syria. No doubt the possibility of being on the US payroll will entice many police now serving Assad to defect.
In an address to the Aspen Security Forum on July 19, Assistant Secretary of State Rick Barton said: “There are literally thousands of defected police inside of Syria. They are credible in their communities because they’ve defected.” Barton said that the officers received about $150 US per month, a quite significant salary in Syria.
The revelation is a somewhat surprising and rather rare disclosure of the nature of US direct aid to the rebels. Congress has approved more than $50 million to be spent. The defected police were able to remain in the communities where they had served, and the US payment was designed to keep them on the job. Barton explained: "We’d rather have a trained policeman who is trusted by the community than have to bring in a new crowd or bring in an international group that doesn’t know the place,”Barton said the rebel movement was awaiting a range of non-lethal U.S. equipment including night vision systems and medical supplies.
The US and some of its allies in Europe are employing defense contractors to teach Syrian rebels how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles according to a CNN report that cited a senior US official and several diplomats.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about US Syria relations, US aid to Syrian rebels, Rick Barton
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