08 April 2014

US Weapons to Syrian Rebels?

So it's clear the Syrian rebels are using TOW missiles. War on the Rocks asks the key question: where did they come from?

Fresh video from the battlefields of southern Idlib province show the rebels using US-made BGM-71 TOW missiles. This weapon has never been observed in rebel use before. Coming on the heels of much speculation that the Obama administration has finally made the decision to aid the Syrian opposition with weapons, the arrival of the TOW missile in Syria is certainly suggestive. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford recently stated that he expected a move by the Administration to change the military balance in Syria.

The TOW missiles in question are being used by Harakat Hazam, a Free Syrian Army group that is mostly composed of survivors from the now-defunct Kataeb Farouq FSA group, and they are connected to former FSA Supreme Military Council chief General Salim Idris. Both of these facts mark them as being distinctly less jihadist than the powerful Islamic Front, and General Idris has been the most active solicitor of American aid for the FSA. All of these things indicate that Harakat Hazam would be an attractive option if the Obama Administration was searching for “good rebels” to provide with weapons. Interestingly, Harakat Hazam also began appearing with MANPADs recently. The group has participated in a successful rebel offensive in the south of the contested Idlib province, which has mostly removed a siege placed on the strategic town of Khan Sheikhoun by Assad forces and seized control of a section of the critical Damascus-Aleppo highway.

No comments: