BIG GUNS: Rebel fighters use American-made rockets to destroy regime tanks in Syria’s northwestern Idlib governorate in a video posted online on Tuesday.
“Video clips show fighters from Harakat Hazm firing American rockets, with no confirmation from rebel leadership of whether the opposition acquired the weapons from official American sources or elsewhere,” says the broadcaster from the pro-rebel news network Masarat Syria, as camouflage-clad rebels load rockets into a system identified by analysts as the US-made BGM-71 TOW.
“Is this the beginning of a fundamental change in the West’s policy toward the Free Syrian Army, and its realization of the dangers that rebels face from the Assad regime and the forces supporting it,” the presenter asks as the camera cuts from a scene of fighter firing a shoulder-mounted missile to a shot of White House spokesman Jay Carney speaking at a press briefing.
The group appearing in the video, Harakat Hazm, was established in January of this year with the stated goal of “confronting all groups who seek to divert the trajectory of the Syrian revolution,” bringing together a dozen moderate rebel groups with the blessing of the Western-backed Joint Command of the Free Syrian Army.
It remains unclear where the rebels acquired the new American weapons.
“Considering the groups already seen with these missile systems and considering Saudis’ already established reputation for providing weapons to moderate… groups, Saudi would seem the most likely candidate at this stage,” said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, in comments to Reuters on Tuesday.
“America has previously refused time and time again to give the Syrian opposition any sort of advanced weaponry,” concludes the broadcaster, as a heat-seeking missile strikes a government tank, drawing cheers from rebel fighters.