Syrian Rebels Using Exact Weapons That Took Gadhafi Down

Rebel weapon pipeline shows how US arms could end up in undesirable hands

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 22, 2013 2:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Obama recently announced he'd begin sending arms to anti-government rebels in Syria, but where have they been getting their weapons until now? Many of them come from Libya, reports the New York Times, thanks to a secretive, Qatar-financed supply pipeline that sneaks in unregistered arms previously used by Libyan rebels to overthrow Gadhafi in 2011. Ironically, many of those weapons were supplied to Libya by Moscow in the Soviet era—and Russia is now arming the very Syrian government forces the rebels are using the weapons against.

The arms are sent on ships or Qatar Emiri Air Force flights to Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey, who then distribute them to their preferred rebel groups, who then pass them on to fighters on the ground. But those rebel fighters sometimes sell their new weapons to wealthier rebel groups, such as those aligned with al-Qaeda. So the way this arms pipeline works isn't just a fascinating bit of trivia, says the Times, but also direct insight into how US weapons could end up in the hands of extremist groups it really doesn't want to be arming.

Free Syrian Army fighters take their positions as they observe the Syrian army forces.
Free Syrian Army fighters take their positions as they observe the Syrian army forces.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
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