x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Syrian rebels now armed with anti-aircraft missiles

Some of the missiles have reportedly been supplied in recent weeks by Qatar.

WASHINGTON // Syrian rebels have recently obtained up to 40 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, the Washington Post reported yesterday, citing Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials.

Some of the missiles were supplied in the past weeks by Qatar, the newspaper reported, citing two unnamed Middle Eastern intelligence officials with knowledge of the matter.

"It should be worrying to everyone," one of the officials said. "When (Syrian President Bashar Al) Assad is finished, terrorists could end up with these, and commercial flights would be at risk."

The US government has opposed arming Syrian rebels with such weapons, fearing that they could eventually land in the hands of terrorists. US intelligence officials declined to comment on the report.

The report comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that for the first time the Syrian rebels downed an army helicopter with a ground-to-air missile.