Russia claims rebels have US-made missiles

Russia claims rebels have US-made missiles

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russia claims rebels have US-made missiles

Top Russian Gen. Makarov (C) claims rebels use US-made Stingers. REUTERS photo

The Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have shoulder-launched missile systems, including Stingers made by the United States, Russia’s top general said yesterday.

Russian chief of staff General Nikolai Makarov, whose country is the Syrian regime’s top arms supplier and has refused to back the rebels, said it was not clear who had delivered the weapons.

“We have information that the rebels fighting the Syrian army have shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles of several states, including Stingers made in the United States,” he said quoted by the Interfax news agency. “We need to still find out who has delivered them,” he said.

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. “For this all kinds of transport could be activated, including civil aviation. This is a serious matter,” Makarov said.

Makarov noted that Washington has denied sending arms to the rebels but said the information that U.S.-made Stingers had appeared in the rebels’ arsenal should now be taken into account. “The Americans say that they have not delivered anything to the rebels. But we have reliable information that the Syrian rebels have foreign-made MANPADS, including American ones.” Makarov’s comments come as Russia is under sustained pressure from the West, Turkey and Assad’s foes in the Arab world to cut its military cooperation with the Syrian regime.