Syrian rebels have shoulder-launched missiles, including U.S.-made Stingers, said Russia’s top military commander.
Russian Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov said he had “reliable” information that anti-government forces in Syria are in possession of portable surface-to-air missiles, including Stingers.
U.S. media reported nearly three months ago that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had obtained nearly two dozen shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, which were delivered to the rebels via Turkey.
A U.S. government source confirmed to Reuters that President Barack Obama earlier this year had signed a secret order authorising the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other U.S. agencies to provide support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Washington has denied supplying Stingers to the Syrian rebels.
“The Americans are in denial, saying they have not supplied anything to the rebels,” Gen. Makarov told reporters on Wednesday. “However, we have reliable information that the militants fighting against the Syrian government forces have portable anti-aircraft missile systems of several states, including Stingers made in the United States.”
“We still need to find out who has delivered them,” added the Russian military chief. General Makarov said it was possible that these and other weapons could have been delivered to the rebels from abroad on several means of transport, “including passenger planes”.
Earlier this month, Turkey forced a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on the grounds it was carrying illegal “war equipment” for the Syrian government.
Russia said the cargo had dual-purpose radar parts transported in a perfectly legal way.