Syrian rebels get supplies of US-made weapons

Delivery of missiles appears to be response to the new Russian-Iranian intervention

A picture taken on October 17, 2015 shows smoke billowing as Syrian opposition fighters run in the Mount Azzan area, 24 kms from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, during reported fighting against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photograph: Getty

A picture taken on October 17, 2015 shows smoke billowing as Syrian opposition fighters run in the Mount Azzan area, 24 kms from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, during reported fighting against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photograph: Getty

 

Rebels battling the Syrian army and its allies near Aleppo said on Monday they had received new supplies of US-made anti-tank missiles from states opposed to president Bashar al-Assad since the start of a major government offensive last week.

The rebels from three groups said new supplies had arrived in response to the attack by the army, which is backed up by Russian air strikes and on the ground by Iranian fighters and Lebanon’s Hizbullah.

The delivery of the US-made Tow missiles to rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria appears to be an initial response to the new Russian-Iranian intervention. Foreign states supporting the rebels include Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

Inadequate supplies

“A few [Tow missiles] will not do the trick. They need dozens,” said one official who declined to be named.

A number of rebel groups vetted by states opposed to Dr Assad have been supplied with weapons via Turkey, part of a programme supported by the United States and which has in some cases included military training by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Loose collective

“We received more supplies of ammunition in greater quantities than before, including mortar bombs, rocket launchers and anti-tank [missiles],” said Issa al-Turkmani, a commander in the FSA-affiliated Sultan Murad group fighting in the Aleppo area. “We have received more new Tows in the last few days . . . We are well-stocked after these deliveries.”

Tow missiles are the most potent weapon in the rebels’ arsenal. FSA-affiliated groups have also been using Tows against government forces to fend off another offensive in Hama province, southwest of Aleppo. – (Reuters)