12:00 AM, November 8, 2012
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Syrian Rebels Build Homemade Bombs, Rely On Foreign Assistance
Syrian rebels taking on President Bashar al-Assad regime have found an extra boost with the help of machine guns, heavy weapons and missiles. While the source of their weapons supply is unclear, many fingers point to the West. According to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “Syrian opposition groups are receiving American-made weapons from abroad”. “We have verified information that there are more than 50 stingers in Syria now,” Lavrov told a press conference in Amman, Jordan. The stinger missiles are developed by U.S weapons maker Raytheon and EADS in Germany under license. Reports suggest that the rebels have nearly two dozen surface-to-air (SAM) launchers to their arsenal. In October, U.S Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denied allegations of supply Syrian rebels with weapons. "I certainly don't know of us providing any such missiles in that area,” he said. According to various reports, weapons are being shipped to the rebels through Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia both of whom are strong supporters of the Free Syrian Army. The two Arab countries have openly called for support to the Free Syrian Army with surface-to-air missile launchers. However, the rebels aren’t solely confined to relying on foreign weapons supply; many are now locally developing mortar rounds, artillery shells and even explosive rockets. “We copied original Palestinian rockets,” said Ahmed Turki, a rebel fighter, who has since designed seven different styles of midrange explosive rockets. He also drew up plans for a rear-loading, 62-millimeter towed artillery piece that is in development and that was displayed, between tests, to two journalists from The New York Times. Meanwhile, tensions hit a new high when earlier this month, Turkish authorities forced a Syrian Air passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on the grounds it was carrying an illegal Russian cargo for Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the cargo confiscated by Ankara before the plane was allowed to carry on was “war equipment”. However Russia has insisted the cargo was perfectly legal radar technology. Although the U.S vehemently denies supply weapons and stinger missiles to Syria, numerous reports indicate otherwise. The CIA has been “covertly coordinating” with rebels and has been actively supplying ammunition, weapons and supplies, reports the Washington Post. Meanwhile, neighbour Israel has indicated that its forces would “have to act” should Syria’s government collapse causing its wide range of chemical weapons to fall into the wrong hands. "Could you imagine Hezbollah, the people who are conducting with Iran all these terror attacks around the world — could you imagine them having chemical weapons? It would be like al-Qaida having chemical weapons," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "It's something that is not acceptable to us, not acceptable to the United States and to any peaceable country in the world". By Bindiya Thomas
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