What a surprise. “Syrian Jihadist Fighters Getting Western Weapons,” by Jamie Dettmer for the VOA, March 25:
A Syrian rebel group the Obama administration considers a terrorist organization is managing to obtain modern anti-tank weapons meant for other groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, according to regional experts.
The Jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra militia is managing to secure weapons being supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to rebel brigades affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, the experts say. The Obama administration considers al-Nusra a terrorist organization because of suspected links with al-Qaida.
The weapons include the Croatian-made M79 portable 90 mm anti-tank gun and M60 recoilless anti-tank weapons. Regional experts say Saudi Arabia and Qatar had been supplying such weapons to rebel units more acceptable to the West, mainly secular or nationalist-focused groups such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades fighting to oust the Assad government.
According to the experts, the weapons are now appearing in the hands of al-Nusra fighters in videos posted by group on Jihadist websites.
In February, the New York Times first reported that the Saudis were supplying Syrian rebels with arms bought from Croatia. The supply operation was prompted by the fear in the West, and among Gulf allies, that Jihadist groups were better equipped than other rebel units and were increasingly able to dominate the anti-Assad movement.
The newspaper reported Monday that U.S. Central Intelligence Agency consultants were helping Arab nations and Turkey in getting heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels despite Washington’s public stance against supplying such weapons itself.
Citing air traffic data and interviews with unnamed officials and rebel commanders, the Times said the weapons airlift to the rebels had grown to include more than 160 military flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and at other Turkish and Jordanian airports….