As fighting ensues in the one of the world’s bloodiest ongoing conflicts, militants from around the region are pouring into Syria to join the fight against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Many of these fighters include members of recognized terrorist organizations, purportedly funded by Saudi Arabia.
An Intelligence Online report released in Paris on Sunday indicates that Saudi General Intelligence acts as the main source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria.
For more on the Gulf funding Assad's ouster, see:
The Saudi intelligence group, according to the report, took advantage of its intelligence in Lebanon and its connections with armed militant groups in Iraq to form and fund the al-Nusra Front, which has recently come under fire for its al-Qaeda affiliations, Al-Manar News reported.
"Thanks to funding from the General Intelligence Department and support from the Saudi intelligence in Lebanon, al-Nusra was able to swiftly arm its forces and make the Syrian regime suffer painful blows through its expertise in Iraqi bombings,” the report noted.
This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has funded militant groups fighting in Syria, as it announced an official plan to fund the rebels
, including non-al-Qaeda fighters, back in April of 2012.
According to reports released in June, Saudi Arabia was still funding groups fighting Assad. Moreover, the Syrian state news agency claims that Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf have paid more than $10 million to mobilize and train rebel forces.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebel fighters have been at war for almost two years over control of the country. The UN estimated on Jan. 2 that the fighting has killed at least 60,000 people, many of whom were civilians.
Image credit: FreedomHouse, Flickr