Tuesday, June 18, 2013

While the West deliberates, Saudi Arabia sends anti-aircraft missiles to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013   No comments

Opposition fighters in Syria, preparing for a major onslaught by government forces in their northern strongholds around Aleppo, have been equipped for the first time with shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, it has emerged.

While Western powers deliberate over whether or not to arm certain rebel groups, Saudi Arabia has sent the weapons, which various rebel groups have long stated is their most needed piece of equipment in fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudis have also sent anti-tank missiles, as those opposed to Assad’s regime grow ever more concerned about the increasing influence of fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, who have recently poured across the border in support of the Syrian government.

The fact that rebel groups now have anti-aircraft missiles – which was revealed by the Reuters news agency – means that they can now pose a threat to Assad’s air force for the first time. Military jets have largely been able to fire on rebel positions without the threat of being shot down, something that has played a significant role in the regular army being able to hold positions it might otherwise have lost to opposition fighters.

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