News / Middle East

Syrian Jihadist Fighters Getting Western Weapons

Syria's al-Nusra rebels posted this photo of its fighters using an M-60 anti-tank weapons March 24.
Syria's al-Nusra rebels posted this photo of its fighters using an M-60 anti-tank weapons March 24.
A Syrian rebel group the Obama administration considers a terrorist organization is managing to obtain modern anti-tank weapons meant for other groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, according to regional experts.
 
The Jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra militia is managing to secure weapons being supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to rebel brigades affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, the experts say. The Obama administration considers al-Nusra a terrorist organization because of suspected links with al-Qaida.

The weapons include the Croatian-made M79 portable 90 mm anti-tank gun and M60 recoilless anti-tank weapons. Regional experts say Saudi Arabia and Qatar had been supplying such weapons to rebel units more acceptable to the West, mainly secular or nationalist-focused groups such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades fighting to oust the Assad government.

Croatian-made weapons

According to the experts, the weapons are now appearing in the hands of al-Nusra fighters in videos posted by group on Jihadist websites.

In February, the New York Times first reported that the Saudis were supplying Syrian rebels with arms bought from Croatia. The supply operation was prompted by the fear in the West, and among Gulf allies, that Jihadist groups were better equipped than other rebel units and were increasingly able to dominate the anti-Assad movement.

The newspaper reported Monday that U.S. Central Intelligence Agency consultants were helping Arab nations and Turkey in getting heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels despite Washington’s public stance against supplying such weapons itself.

Citing air traffic data and interviews with unnamed officials and rebel commanders, the Times said the weapons airlift to the rebels had grown to include more than 160 military flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

Reports of CIA assistance

Croatian weaponry believed to be part of those airlifts had been seen being used earlier this year by other Jihadist groups fighting in Syria, but al-Nusra videos posted on the internet this weekend showed for the first time their fighters using the M79 and M60 antitank weapons.

Syria's al-Nusra rebels post a photo of its fighters using an M-79 anti-tank weapon.Syria's al-Nusra rebels post a photo of its fighters using an M-79 anti-tank weapon.
x
Syria's al-Nusra rebels post a photo of its fighters using an M-79 anti-tank weapon.
Syria's al-Nusra rebels post a photo of its fighters using an M-79 anti-tank weapon.
“Neither of these weapons are locally available, either from the black market or looted from the Syrian army because they don't have them,” said British-based weapons researcher, Eliot Higgins, who first spotted the videos. “That's what made them so easy to track; they stand out like sore thumbs in Syria.”

Since announcing its formation in Syria in early 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra has grown rapidly and is considered one of the most effective forces opposing the Assad government.

The rise of al-Nusra, which has homegrown fighters in its ranks as well foreign jihadists drawn from elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, has complicated Western considerations about whether and how to supply arms to the Syrian rebels.
 
British and French want stepped-up shipments
 
The British and French governments have been pushing to increase the flow of weapons to the Syrian rebels, but other European nations have resisted, arguing that the equipment could fall into the hands of jihadist groups such as al-Nusra. Critics of the Anglo-French position said the intended recipients of the weapons, the FSA rebel units, worked too closely with al-Nusra to keep the weapons to themselves.
 
“We were concerned that the FSA is not really a cohesive force with a single command-and-control structure, but is far more a loose alliance of rebel brigades,” says a German diplomat based in Brussels. “We didn’t believe the FSA could or would even bother to police who received any European-supplied weaponry. FSA units fight alongside al-Nusra and other Jihadists.”
 
Al-Nusra, like other rebel units, also uses weapons it seizes from captured Syrian army facilities.
 
This past Saturday, al-Nusra fighters joined other rebel units in overrunning an air defense base in southern Syria’s Daraa Province near the border with Jordan. Videos posted by al-Nusra appeared to show rebel fighters carting off portable surface-to-air missiles, often called SAMS or MANPADS, for “Man-Portable-Air-Defense-System.”
 
Syrian rebels have been urging the West and Gulf countries for months to supply the rebellion with such anti-aircraft missiles, but the Obama administration has said “no.” It also has urged allied not to supply such missiles, fearing they would fall into the wrong hands.
 
But with each capture of Syrian army bases, though, there are opportunities for rebels, Jihadists included, to seize anti-aircraft missiles, Western security officials say.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 01, 2013 3:23 AM
The USA is extremely self serving and short sighted when it comes to dealing with other nations. Keep in mind, that the MB rebels hate for the USA is deep, and they will use the USA and others to achieve their goal.

by: Anonymous
March 27, 2013 10:55 AM
Has the White House been misleading the public by repeatedly denying it was coordinating arms shipments to the rebels in Syria, insurgents known to consist in large part of al-Qaida and other jihadist groups?

Other top U.S. officials and former officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have implied in congressional testimony that they didn’t know about any U.S. involvement in procuring weapons for the rebels.


by: mustafa from: pakistan
March 25, 2013 11:28 PM
Saudia arabia is the birth place of AL QAIDA. Al Qaida is responsible for killing of innocent peoples in different parts of the world. According to Saudia arabia and Al Qaida killing of innocent peoples and destroy properties is BIG achievement in life and they will go to Paradise with is seconds after death. Can any body give me any reference in Quran that these killers will go to paradise.

WEST MUST stop all types of shipments which will increase BASIC problems of common people. I am sure OPPosition is doing all this drama to gain power and enjoy their life at the cost of poor people. They cannot do any thing good for poor people. HISTORY will tell us who is right and who is wrong. ALL SPONSORS will be accountable in front of GOD on day of judgement so be prepare your self for those questions. If any body think that he can scape from accountability then better to live in your dream world.

by: ali baba from: new york
March 25, 2013 9:24 PM
this another foolish mistake by American policy maker..Byy giving weapons to radical Muslim, it might be used against American interest. it happen in Libya and it is repeated again in Syria.
is American learn from their mistake

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
March 25, 2013 5:15 PM
There is no point in the US refusal of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons to opposition groups in Syria, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar are indiscriminately supplying such weapons to jihadists and other terrorist groups in Syria. Even if no advanced weapons are supplied to the opposition groups in Syria, the jihadists and terrorists obtain these weapons from the captured Syrian military sites.

The supply of advanced weapons by UK and France will enhace the speedy removal of Assad. While the US spends millions of dollars for the refugees and internally displaced persons, these huge expenses can be reduced on long term by supplying a few million dollars worth of advanced weapons to Syrian opposition groups. If the US supplies so called non-lethel equipments such as armored vehicles and night vision goggles, why don't the US supply anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the same group receiving the non-lethal weapons? Is the US supplying non-lethal weapons indiscriminately to the jihadists and terrorists also? If not, the US should supply the lethal weapns who receive the non-lethal weapons.

The inertia of US in international affairs, make France and UK the champions of freedom while the President Obama takes a nap with his Nobel Peace Prize under his pillow!. For political reasons in the US, President Obama does not want to publicise the supply of arms to the Syrian opposition, while indulging in the supply arms by the CIA to the Syrian opposition through intermediary countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Russia declared that they are supplying lethal weapons to Assad. Iran also supply lethal weapons to Assad, but claims that they don't supply arms to Assad. Arms supply to Assad flows to Assad through Hezbollah in Lebanon and also through Iraq. Under these circumstances the US should supply arms to the Syrian rebels to curb massacre in Syria and shorten the agony of Syrian people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs