Now Syrian Rebels Have Missiles

Meanwhile, war reaches Damascus, the wealthy
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2012 7:46 AM CDT
Now Syrian Rebels Have Missiles
Syrians rescue people from under the rubble of a destroyed building that was attacked by a Syrian force airstrike, at Kfar Nebel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria.   (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)

This could change things: Some Syrian rebels now have antiaircraft missiles, rebels and regional officials say. Video footage appears to show the rebels using such weapons, which have been smuggled into the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. Rebels say they downed a military helicopter yesterday, one of at least four aircraft reportedly shot down this week—if true, that's a quicker pace since the summer, although it's not clear how the copters and jets were brought down. Despite the fact that this could be good news for the rebels, it's bad news for the US, which worries such weapons could end up with anti-Western militias. More from Syria:

  • The rebels today blew up one oil pipeline and one gas pipeline near Deir al-Zour, the AP reports, citing state media. Meanwhile, at least 20 people were killed in government airstrikes on rebel areas last night and this morning, activists say.
  • Though Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has tried to shield Damascus, war has now reached the capital, the New York Times reports. The fighting isn't as intense as in other cities like Aleppo or Homs, but it's drastically increased since a few months ago: Checkpoints abound, kidnappings are common, bombings are increasing, and it's not safe to go out after dark. "How soon before our city, our markets, are destroyed?" wonders one resident.
  • Similarly, Syria's wealthy—many of whom back the president—are now seeing their businesses hurt by the war, and some are losing faith in Assad, the AP reports. Many have seen factories burned or otherwise affected by fighting, and others have had their money restricted by sanctions.
  • Yet more trouble for Assad: Even his own sect, the Alawite minority, is growing discontent, the Washington Post reports. Alawites had been strong backers of Assad, as the Sunni majority backed the rebellion, because they feared losing power to Sunni Islamists. But, though there is no indication that Alawites plan to join the rebellion, there are reports of rifts even within Assad's own extended family.
(Read more Bashar al-Assad stories.)

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