By MARK MAZZETTI and MATT APUZZO
JAN. 23, 2016
WASHINGTON — When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Since then, the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles.
More: U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels
11.5% of Syria's population is estimated to have been killed or injured.
The five-year-old war in Syria has claimed 470,000 lives, according to new research that almost doubles previous estimates about the human cost of the conflict.
The Guardian reported details of a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, due to be launched in Beirut on Thursday, that says life expectancy in Syria has dropped to just 55.4 years. Before the conflict Syrians could expect to live to the age of 70.
More: The Death Toll From Syria’s War Is Actually 470,000, New Research Claims | TIME