Supplying Syrian opposition forces with the anti-tank weapons (TOW) is an indication of a major transition in US Middle Eastern policy and could be used as tool to unobtrusively exercise pressure on current regime, Carnegie’s senior Middle East analyst told RIA Novosti.
“If the US is supplying TOWs, this is quite an important shift. But it may be a way for the US to put pressure on the regime without getting too involved or going too far”, said Yezid Sayigh.
Reports of US assisting moderate rebel groups have been recently appearing in Wall Street Journal and China Morning Sun. Iran based Fars News agency also issued a report on Monday confirming the US supply of the anti-tank missiles to militants fighting against Syrian President Bashar al- Assad.
“If it’s true that several groups that work with the Supreme Military Council have been given them, then it’s likely that the US is either supplying the TOW missile or allowing Saudi Arabia (and/or Turkey and Qatar) to supply their own TOWs”, suggested Yezid.
Aron Lund, another expert from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the editor of Syria in Crisis Journal, told RIA Novosti that “in any event, putting more pressure on Assad to punish him and soften him up for future talks would seem like the logical next step for the US government’s point of view.”
Reuters report last Monday linked to Israel based website ‘Debkafile’ that presented information about two moderate Syrian rebel groups which were suppliedA with BGM-71 TOW missiles.
US arms Syrian rebels with first heavy weapons – media reports
Syrian rebels allegedly have recently obtained high-powered anti-tank weaponry that they could only get abroad. Presumably, the missiles were supplied by the US with the support of the US administration and Pentagon.
The story was originally reported by the Israeli website DEBKAfile, an independent Internet resource that provides intelligence and security news services. DEBKAfile’s military sources said that in the last several days two militant groups, the Free Syrian Army and Syrian Revolutionary Front, received heavy anti-tank, optically-tracked, wire-guided rockets – BGM-71 TOW missiles. This type of weaponry can pierce 50mm thick
tank armor and fortifications at a range of 4 kilometers.
Both militias are considered to be moderate by the US. The Obama administration remains committed to assisting rebels in their fight against President Bashar Al-Assad that has lasted for three years. However, the United Stated always underlines that it does not support radical factions in Syria.
The anti-tank weapons are shipped through Turkey and Saudi Arabia. To be specific, they are delivered through two routes: the town of Diyarbakir and Saudi King Faisal Air Base at Tabuk.
The United States denies supplying the rebels with heavy weaponry in the conflict-torn Syria. However, several videos with BGM-71 TOW missiles, allegedly in the hands of the militants, have been uploaded to Youtube.
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