News / Middle East

    Syria Rebels Appear to Make Big Weapons Seizure

    In this screen grab from a video posted to You Tube by Syrian activists, rebels who claim to have captured a government arm depot show crates rockets and other arms. In this screen grab from a video posted to You Tube by Syrian activists, rebels who claim to have captured a government arm depot show crates rockets and other arms.
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    In this screen grab from a video posted to You Tube by Syrian activists, rebels who claim to have captured a government arm depot show crates rockets and other arms.
    In this screen grab from a video posted to You Tube by Syrian activists, rebels who claim to have captured a government arm depot show crates rockets and other arms.
    Syrian rebels appear to have seized a large number of weapons from a government arms depot near the northern city of Aleppo.
     
    Activists posted several videos to YouTube on Saturday and Sunday showing crates of weapons and ammunition they say were seized from the arms depot in the town of Khan Toman.
     
    In one video, Islamist rebels loaded dozens of the crates onto a truck. In another, rebels inspected the interior of a seized building containing crates of rockets and other arms.

    There was no independent confirmation of the rebel seizure of the arms depot.  Other activist videos posted on YouTube in recent days appeared to show rebels trying to seize the compound.
     
     
    Rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have seized large areas of northern and eastern Syria in recent months, including parts of Aleppo and the towns surrounding Syria's commercial capital.  But Assad's forces remain in control of central Aleppo, his power base in Damascus and western regions dominated by his Alawite sect.
     
    Syrian rebels have long complained about having inferior firepower compared to government tanks, warplanes and rockets supplied by Assad allies such as Russia. The opposition fighters frequently appeal to Western powers and their Arab partners to send them weapons to even the scale.
     
    The exiled opposition Syrian National Coalition is preparing to vote for a prime minister to manage rebel-held parts of Syria. Opposition figures said Sunday the vote is likely to be held in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday.
     
    Favorites for the position include economist Osama Kadi, businessman Ghassan Hitto and former Syrian agriculture minister Assad Asheq Mustafa.
     
    Kadi is the founder of the Washington-based research group Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies. Hitto has worked as a communications executive in the southern U.S. state of Texas. Mustafa appears to be the only major contender with experience of serving as a Syrian minister under the Assad family before defecting to the opposition.
     
    The Syrian National Coalition hopes forming a rebel government will help bring order to communities freed from Assad's control.
     
    Some opposition figures have criticized the group's decision to choose a prime minister, saying it should instead form an executive body to run rebel affairs or agree to a transitional government that includes members of Assad's administration.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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    Comments
         
    by: Jaime from: usa
    March 18, 2013 2:10 AM
    The man with the light brown beard is Aaron Y. Zelin. Zelin is the Richard Borow fellow at The Washington Institute and also Liason between the the White House and Syrian rebel groups.

    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    March 17, 2013 6:51 PM
    Why should the US and EU scared to offer military equipments, while the Syrian opposition forces are already accumulating offensive weapons from the defeated army of Assad in the north and east of Syria. It will be better to provide anti-aircraft guns and missiles and anti-tank weapons to the opposition forces so that they themselves can declare a no-fly zone in Syria, without the direct military intervention of the US, EU and/or NATO. How can the Syrian opposition forces survive if the military airlift of lethal weapons from Iran and Russia continue to flow into the hands of Assad? The US, EU and NATO, the mute spectators of the carnage in Syria by the Assad forces, is to be condemned for inaction. France and Britain is going to break away from the policy decisions of US and EU not to supply lethal weapons to the Syrian opposition forces, while the paper tigers US and EU take a nap, especially Obama and Merkel.
    In Response

    by: Syria's Pride from: USA
    March 17, 2013 7:37 PM
    This is BS, no one leaves this kind of fire power, where are the bodies? where are the bases? how did this type of fire power get to a place with no buildings around? who captured it and how? no one will say.. that's because it's all BS.. they want you think they just found this stuffl.. Stop the crime against Syria.. get these morons out of the country, let the goverment's heavy hands deal with them all.

    by: musawi melake
    March 17, 2013 5:57 PM
    It's been a classical story in many such govt. versus insurgent war, that the state(s) that supports the insurgence rutinely supply weapons and instruct the guerrillas to issue statements about capturing govt. weaponary. This is to conceal the backer involments comming into public domain. Yesterday there were talks of Eu supplies and unilateral French supply along with American hand outs of "non leathal weapons", and now we here all these fanfare capture of Assad's arsenal, good! Free-Masons are very good at these kinds of årpåaganda!

    by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
    March 17, 2013 4:33 PM
    I don't see how Osama Kadi who is based in Washington D.C. can be a leader of any sort in Syria. If anything, his effort reminds me the American Mahmud Jibril who suddenly became prime minister in Libya after Gaddafi, only to be ousted as a possible U.S. transplanted leader. He was allowed to register a party for elections, but he was not allowed to run himself for office during the election - under an ultimatum by Libyan militia commanders to the Libyan Transitional Council. I expect the same to happen in Syria with any Syrian American returning home to hijack the revolution.

    The post-Assad Syrian leadership would be determined by rebel commanders, not by civilian leaders living outside Syria who are sponsored by foreign powers, and are supposedly elected by "councils" of Syrian notables. In a revolution the only notable that matter are commanders in the field, and they would appoint the leadership of the country after Assad meet his fate.

    I am sure nobody want to see Syria becoming a 1990's Algeria. The best way to achieve that is to respect the rebels and let them decide the new course of the Syria after Assad. It is their revolution, and it should be their priviledge - not the priviledge of the West, Russia, Iran or the Gulf states! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

    by: Wallace J Bradley from: USA
    March 17, 2013 4:15 PM
    Hopefully this will stop the calls to arm these terrorists. They can arm themselves by taking arms from the Syrian government. Hopefully they will use most of their weapons up killing each other before exporting the remainder to murder people in other countries.
    In Response

    by: Walton from: USA
    March 17, 2013 4:42 PM
    These al-Qaeda terrorists will use this weapons cache to murder Americans someday. Assad might not be best for Syria but he's far better than these Saudi-funded Wahhabi terrorists who will murder all religious minorities in Syria and attack US interest in the region.

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