Saturday, October 10, 2015
Was John McCain instrumental in getting US TOW missiles transferred to “Syrian Rebels” in Raqa?
WHERE DO YOU SUPPOSE THE JIHADIS GOT THE TOW MISSILES? HOW DID THE PENTAGON AND CIA SPEND $500 MILLION ON ARMING SYRIAN “REBELS”?
Syrian insurgents acquire TOW missiles - IHS Jane's 360
A still from one of the videos shows a TOW missile leaving the launcher. While it is unclear which version of the M220 system is being used, the guidance wire can be seen running from the missile to the launcher, showing it is not the new wireless variant. Source: Harakat Hazm
Syrian insurgents have released the first videos showing them using US-made M220-series TOW heavy anti-tank weapon systems, indicating that a state sponsor is supplying them with a new type of guided missile.
The three videos were uploaded to YouTube between 1 and 5 April by members of the moderate insurgent group Harakat Hazm. Two of these show TOWs being fired at targets near the town of Hish in the Idlib Governate; the third is of the missile system in the back of a pick-up truck.
Weighing nearly 80 kg without a thermal sight, the M220 series is comparatively heavy, which limits its tactical utility as an insurgent weapon, but its missiles have a longer range and more effective warheads than most contemporary anti-tank guided missile systems.
The system has been widely exported, including to Saudi Arabia and Turkey - which both support the Syrian opposition - and Iran, the Syrian government's main backer. The militaries of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the other two Gulf states widely believed to have supplied weapons to Syrian insurgents, use European anti-tank guided missiles (HOT and MILAN), rather than TOW.
The TOWs in the insurgent videos are unlikely to have been supplied to pro-government forces by Iran and then captured by the insurgents. They are in good condition, so almost certainly do not date back to the mid-1980s when thousands of US TOWs were illegally transferred to Iran, and have the standard day sight/tracker, so cannot be the Iranian-made Toophan version, which has a different sight.
The United States should have been informed about the delivery of TOWs to Syrian insurgents as recipients of its weaponry have to notify it about any subsequent transfers to third parties.
US officials have recently indicated that the existing CIA-led programme of targeted military assistance to the moderate opposition will be expanded. This will supposedly involve more training and non-lethal assistance instead of directly supplying insurgents with weapons.
The state sponsor behind the delivery of the TOWs is backing a group that appears to be part of a splinter faction of the Syrian Military Council (SMC), which was set up to channel foreign support to the comparatively moderate insurgents and co-ordinate their activities.
Harakat Hazm was established on 25 January 2014 by the merger of 12 small groups under the leadership of Bilal Atar (alias: Abu Abd-al-Sham). Salim Idris, the then chief of staff of the SMC, appeared in its formation video to give the group and its objectives a rare endorsement.
The group remained loyal to Idris after he was officially dismissed on 16 February. Harakat Hazm was not represented in the 19 February video in which 12 senior SMC commanders appeared alongside Idris to announce the formation of a rival military leadership. However, it distributed the video through its media channels and released its own statement of support for Idris on 17 February.
PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS REPORT:
U.S. Senator John McCain met with members of the Syrian opposition in Gaziantep on July 1 amid a warning from fragmented rebels that they will lay down their arms in a week if they do not receive aid in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Following his meeting with representatives from the Syrian National Council (SNC), the rebel interim government, civil society activists, and commanders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the senator called for a strategy to provide greater support to Syrian opposition as parts of efforts to defeat ISIL.
McCain said he had been given firsthand accounts of the “deteriorating security and humanitarian situation on the ground inside Syria, and how the recent offensive by ISIL in Iraq is shifting dynamics on the battlefield in favor of extremists in both countries.”
He added that the Syrian opposition was fighting a two-front war against the Bashar al-Assad regime on the one side and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist organizations like ISIL on the other.
“We need a strategy that can force al-Assad to leave power and defeat ISIL in both Syria and Iraq, and that strategy should start with greater support to these Syrian opposition forces, especially vital military training and assistance, such as anti-armor and anti-air capabilities and support for creating a safe zone in Syria,” the senator said. ISIL renamed itself simply as the Islamic State (IS) after its leader declared a new Islamic state in lands seized last month across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.
Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba and the leader of the Free Syrian Army, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir, held talks in Washington in May urging members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to authorize the supply of arms, particularly for anti-aircraft weapons. However, the Obama administration is worried that such weapons could fall into the hands of extremist opposition groups such as ISIL and the al-Nusra Front.
And yesterday, rebels from northern and eastern Syria threatened to lay down their arms in a week if the country’s exiled opposition does not help them fight ISIL. “We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions... give the National Coalition, the [opposition] interim government, the [rebel] Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid,” the statement said. “Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters,” it added.
“Our popular revolution [against al-Assad] ... is today under threat because of [ISIL], especially after it announced a caliphate,” said the statement. The factions that signed the statement are local rebel groups based in Raqa, Deir ez-Zor and parts of Aleppo province where fighting against ISIL has been most intense, and which are now under ISIL control.
The statement comes days after U.S. President Barack Obama called on Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition.