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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs