October 24, 2012
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, a senior Russian general, told Interfax the rebels in Syria are using U.S. provided anti-aircraft missiles against the Syrian government.
“We have reliable information that Syrian militants have foreign portable anti-aircraft missile systems, including those made in the USA… it should be cleared up who delivered them,” Makarov said. He said the weapons include “US-made Stingers,” RIA Novosti reports.
In 1986, the CIA provided Stinger missiles to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of the country.
Makarov speculated that the weapons arrived by passenger plane. “For this all kinds of transport could be activated, including civil aviation. This is a serious matter,” Makarov said.
Makarov’s remarks are in response to Turkey forcing down a civilian aircraft en route from Moscow to Damascus earlier this month. Turkey insisted the aircraft was delivering weapons to Syria. It was discovered the Syrian plane was legally carrying Russian radar parts.
Russia said Turkey violated the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations when it denied the Russian diplomats access to passengers for eight hours.
“The Americans say that they have not delivered anything to the rebels. But we have reliable information that the Syrian rebels have foreign-made MANPADS, including American ones,” Makarov said.
MANPADS, short for man-portable air defense systems, have proliferated since the development of the American Redeye in the late 1950s. There are an estimated 500,000 MANPADS in the world today and thousands are said to be on the black market, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been trying to supply the Syrian rebels with MANPADs. Both countries are providing money to the rebels so they can buy weapons on the black market.
In August, Obama signed a secret order authorizing the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support for the rebels. “The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that,” Reuters reported.
“We do not believe that adding to the number of weapons in Syria is what is needed to help bring about a peaceful transition,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Despite Carney’s denial, the Free Syrian Army “obtained nearly two dozen” Stinger missiles “which were delivered to them via neighboring Turkey,” Reuters reported on July 31.
On August 28, we covered the New York Times scrubbing an article reporting the United States had provided the Syrian rebels with weapons.
“In an article about France urging Syrian rebels to form a provisional government, the New York Times scrubbed a passage which revealed that the CIA was helping funnel arms to rebel groups that have aligned themselves with Al-Qaeda terrorists,” Paul Joseph Watson wrote.
“Despite public claims on behalf of the White House that no weapons are being sent to the rebels, reports that the CIA has been doing precisely that have been circulating for months, including a recent story about CIA spies smuggling 14 stinger missiles into Syria so rebels could defend themselves with ground to air technology,” Watson notes.
Following the Russian claim that the United States has provided the FSA with Stinger missiles, Pentagon boss Leon Panetta said he had no knowledge of weapon transfer.
“I don’t know what the reports are – and I certainly don’t know of us providing any such missiles in that area,” Panetta said.