Last Updated: Fri Aug 17, 2012 21:32 pm (KSA) 18:32 pm (GMT)

Syrian opposition fighters acquire Stinger missiles: sources

The United States fears that advanced weapons sent to Syrian rebels might reach hands of Jihadi groups. (Reuters)
The United States fears that advanced weapons sent to Syrian rebels might reach hands of Jihadi groups. (Reuters)

The Free Syrian Army has acquired surface-to-air Stinger missiles but they have not been used yet, a source in the Syrian opposition told Al Arabiya. The U.S.-based source said the missiles were not used against the Syrian Army fighter jet downed last Monday. The source said it was shot down by anti-aircraft guns.

“There is no indication that the Free Syrian Army has used the Stinger missiles yet,” the source said.

Another source familiar with the operations of Syrian opposition fighters confirmed that 14 Stinger missiles have been delivered to the Free Syrian Army at the İskenderun area on the border with Turkey. The source said both Turkey and the United States are aware of the arms delivery.

The source, which asked not to be named, said “financing has probably come from Saudi Arabia, but the origin might be different.”

The U.S. Department of Defense declined to comment.

Syrian opposition fighters have been engaged in fierce fighting against the government army to control the city of Alepppo, the country’s commercial capital. The government army has been increasingly using air force to hit the rebels who don’t have the firepower to defend themselves from air attacks.

The United States has been reluctant about arming the Syrian opposition fighters due to fears that weapons sent to them might reach the hands of Jihadi fighters who arrived to Syria from Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

Al Arabiya sources said the American government wanted to ensure that the missiles are delivered to known units of the Free Syrian Army and not Jihadi groups operating in Syria. The acquisition and use of Stinger missiles might indicate a more direct involvement by the U.S. and NATO in the Syrian conflict.

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