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US intelligence concerned by Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria

The director of US National Intelligence, James Clapper, testified in Washington on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are at least 7,500 fighters from 50 different countries who have been trained by Al-Qaeda fighters inside Syria.

Defence Intelligence Agency Chairman Michael Flynn warned that: "There is also the very real possibility that extremists in the Syrian opposition could overrun and exploit chemical and biological weapons storage facilities before all the materials are removed."

"The current instability in Syria presents a perfect opportunity for Al-Qaeda and associated groups to acquire these weapons or their components," added Flynn.

When asked if Al-Qaeda is "on the run" or "on the path to defeat", Clapper replied no, saying that: "It is morphing and franchising itself, not only [in North Africa] but other parts of the world."

Flynn also responded that Al-Qaeda is not on the path to defeat.

Clapper noted that at least 7,500 foreign fighters from 50 countries have gravitated to Syria, including a small group of Afghani and Pakistani supporters of Al-Qaeda "who have aspirations for external attack in Europe if not the homeland itself."

"Looking back over my more than half a century in intelligence," Clapper added, "I've not experienced a time when we've been beset by more crises and threats around the globe."

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