Libyan Anti-Aircraft Missiles Finding Their Way into Syria
October 20, 2012 • 7:48AM

Rebels in Syria claim to have acquired shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in recent weeks, and just this week alone, have claimed to have shot down four Syrian military aircraft. "Northern Syria is awash with advanced antitank and anti-aircraft weapons," a Syrian involved in coordinating weapons procurement with regional states told the Wall Street Journal. He claimed that the transfer of anti-aircraft weapons was not sanctioned by regional states, and that the U.S. opposes the transfer of such weapons because of fears that they may wind up in the hands of jihadi militias and terrorist groups that might turn around and use them against the West.

The Journal frankly reports that most of these weapons that have made it into Syria have come from looted arsenals in Libya, and that they have likely come through Turkey, as rebel sources say that the Lebanese have largely closed their border with Syria to arms trafficking. And many of the jihadis are coming, not just from Libya, but Benghazi, in eastern Libya, which is the center of jihadi activity in the country.

On Oct. 10, during the hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asked the witnesses if they knew how many shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles were missing in Libya as a result of the chaos there. "The figures that we were provided were fluid, but the rough approximation was between 10,000 and 20,000." replied Eric Nordstrom, the Department of State's regional security officer who has responsibility for that part of the world. In addition, it should be noted that just before the attack on the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens met with an unidentified Turkish diplomat, whose country is serving asthe conduit for weapons and fighters flowing to the rebel groups in Syria. What they discussed has not been reported. Could it have included the missing missiles?

Russia is also concerned about the weapons flowing to Syria and where they may ultimately end up. "We must pay attention to those who are supplying weapons to Syria now, especially if it is done illegally," says Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, reports Russia Today. "Putting out fires with petrol is not the best solution."