Report: Germany Sending Data to Syrian Rebels

Germany has been sending intelligence information to Syrian rebels, according to a report in Bild Am Sonntag.

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Elad Benari,

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad shakes hand
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad shakes hand

Germany has been assisting the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and has been sending them intelligence information, according to a report in the German newspaper Bild Am Sonntag.

The report in the Sunday newspaper said that the information is collected by a German ship stationed off the coast of Syria and is then conveyed to the rebels. British and American intelligence agencies are also involved in transferring information to the rebels, although they take no part in collecting the data, the report claimed.

Bild Am Sonntag said that the ship off the coast of Syria has spy equipment belonging to the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, which allows it to observe the movement of Syrian forces at a distance of up to 600 kilometers from the shore.

The data collected on board the ship is then sent to the Free Syrian Army via the intelligence services of the United States and Britain. A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry declined to comment, but confirmed to Bild Am Sonntag that a ship carrying such equipment indeed exists. The spokesman said the ship patrols the international waters of the Middle East and is currently in Sardinia.

The German intelligence service declined to comment on the report, as did the British Foreign Office, which stressed that Britain gives non-lethal aid to the opposition in Syria.

The latest report on countries aiding Syrian rebels comes after another report earlier this month, which said that U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing support for the rebels.

Sources said that Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

Some conservative U.S. lawmakers, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have criticized Obama’s administration for moving too slowly to assist the rebels and have suggested the U.S. government become directly involved in arming Assad's opponents.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was recently in Turkey, where she spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu over the escalating civil war in Syria.

Among other topics, Clinton and Davutoglu also discussed imposing no-fly zones to halt the Syrian government from attacking its citizens, and the opposition forces, from the air. It is a similar strategy that was used by NATO forces to assist the rebel movement in Libya that ultimately toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.