A senior Russian military official charges that rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are now using American weapons, including Stinger antiaircraft missiles.
“We have reliable information that Syrian militants have foreign portable anti-aircraft missile systems, including those made in the U.S.A.,” Gen. Nikolai Makarov told journalists in Russia.
“It should be cleared up who delivered them.”
Russia is the biggest supplier of arms to the Syrian government, according to the BBC.
Syrian warplanes have been bombarding rebel-dominated areas in the last few months, and opposition groups say nearly 30,000 people have been killed since the uprising began.
Syrian rebels said they shot down a fighter jet in August.
The rebels are reportedly using old Soviet SA-7 heat-seeking missiles, which can take down a plane flying at up to 14,000 feet.
U.S.-made Stingers are shoulder-mounted weapons designed to target low-flying planes and helicopters. The United States in the 1980s armed Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet Union, and the missiles proved to be pivotal in the Soviet’s decision to withdraw from the country.
In related news, the former vice president of Iraq is charging that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is allowing Iranian convoys to use Iraqi roads to ship military supplies to the Syrian government.
Tariq al-Hashimi told Foreign Policy magazine: “Munitions, heavy arms, and even militias are passing checkpoints without any sort of obstruction.”
He said the convoys cross into Iraq from Iran at the Zarbatia checkpoint near Mehran, flow through the city of Karbala, and enter Syria at the al-Qaim border crossing.
Maliki’s support for Assad “is a clear indication that he is aligning Iraqi foreign policy toward Iran and away from U.S. and Western interests,” Hashimi said.
Hashimi has been living in Turkey after being sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. He was charged with participating in acts of terrorism against his political opponents, charges that Foreign Policy said are “widely seen as political in nature.”
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