Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters attempting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad have recently received a big boost in the form of heavy weapons, James Miller of EA WorldView reports.
For months foreign jihadists from groups like al-Nusra have been the most organised and best rebel fighters, but their brutality and vision of a seventh-century style Islamic Caliphate concerns secular and moderate Syrians as well as Western governments.
Last month Eliot Higgins of the Brown Moses blog reported FSA had new weapons — including several kinds of rocket-propelled grenades [RPGs], rocket and grenade launchers, and recoilless rifles — that seemed to have originated from the former-Yugoslavia.
Around Jan. 1 the weapons began appearing in the Daraa Province at the Jordan border, and this week Higgins reported that the weapons have spread northward to the Damascus, Hama, and Aleppo regions as well as Deir Ez Zor in the east.
While foreign weapons have been seen in Syria, we have not encountered them on this scale. All this suggests a new, organised, and well-funded effort is under way to ensure that “moderate” fighters are capturing territory and weakening the Assad regime.
The influx of weapons has apparently made a big difference on the ground as FSA fighters have captured ground from Daraa city to Damascus to both the south and north of Aleppo city. Here are some examples:
A rebel firing a M60 Recoilless Rifle Busra al-Harir in Daraa:
Rebels with an RPG-22 near the Damascus International Airport:
And here is Colonel Abdul-Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi — who Higgins identifies as one of two members of the “armament committee” for the FSA’a Northern Front — showing off a M79 rocket launcher to FSA fighters:
Miller notes that it’s “too early to tell whether there are enough weapons to make a long-term impact” because none of these weapons can effectively counter Assad’s fighter jets.
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