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Hard Evidence That Obama Has Started Arming Syrian Rebels?

April 7, 2014

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.

It remains to be seen whether the US is directly providing weapons or merely allowing weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to flow unimpeded of US pressure on the Jordanian and Turkish governments. If, during his recent visit, President Obama did successfully complete some sort of a deal with the Saudis over what rebel factions will receive the new weapons, this will undoubtedly become more clear as more videos of hardware on the battlefield make their way to Youtube.

Jack Mulcaire is a contributor to War on the Rocks. During the 2011 Libyan Civil War, he helped lead a group of international volunteers that aided and consulted with local rebel councils and units. 

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6 thoughts on “Hard Evidence That Obama Has Started Arming Syrian Rebels?

  1. It might also be worth noting that Iran manufactures reverse-engineered copies of the TOW. I don’t know whether they have provided any to Syria and/or Hezbollah, which might have been captured by the rebels.

    1. Hard to tell if its an Iranian knock off but the finish is too slick to be from Iran. AN the picture is pure bullshi@t. The TOW would be on a tripod as its to heavy and powerfull to shoulder launch like this picture suggests. It also can’t be fired through brush as it suggests as the wires will be cut or broken.

      1. DBM

        The missile in question is mounted on a tripod; see the video contained in the link in the article. In the photo, the tripod is concealed by the rocks in the foreground. It is fired across clear terrain in the video.


  2. Except 1. The missile launcher is a Toofan, an Iranian copy of the Tow. The sight tube looks different on a TOW. 2. The MANPAD you reference in the link to a youtube is actually a SA-16/18, manufactured by Russia and in use by half the planet.

  3. Back at the start of this when Obama was claiming the US was only providing non-lethal assistance, the Americans were in fact helping to run weapons to the FSA. The CIA helped to organize flights out of Turkey to arm the alleged “moderates.” Now predictably the armaments are become more heavy duty. The Americans are in effect helping to arm forces that want an Islamic state in Syria – even 50% of the FSA fall into that category. But it’s part of the regional power game involving Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “Democracy” and “human rights” are just window dressing to legitimize a very dirty game.

  4. Syria and Ukraine, one a route for Russian energy, the other a potential route for Qatari energy. Europe is the client, Russia making the pigeons from NATO look as stupid as they are.

    World domination can’t happen while Russia has control of the European energy market, and China is another matter even bigger than Russia, but China can be bought or bribed. Russia not so much.

    Therefore NATO has to prove to the world its worthy to rule by defeating all resistance, currently represented by Syria, Russia, Iran, and lesser so, China.

    They’ve taken far too long already and accomplished very little the past 5 years, even lost ground due to setback in Syria and now Ukraine.