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 on Wednesday.
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.
The Turkish authorities earlier this month forced a Syrian Air passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on the grounds it was carrying an illegal Russian cargo for the Syrian regime.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the cargo confiscated by Ankara before the plane was allowed to carry on was “war equipment”. However Russia has insisted the cargo was perfectly legal radar technology.