World Bulletin / News Desk
Rebels fighting to depose Syrian president Bashar al Assad have for the first time acquired a small supply of surface-to-air missiles, according to a news report that a Western official did not dispute.
NBC News reported Tuesday night that the rebel Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen of the weapons, which were delivered to them via neighboring Turkey, whose government has been demanding Assad's departure with increasing vehemence.
Indications are that the U.S. government, which has said it opposes arming the rebels, is not responsible for the delivery of the missiles.
But some U.S. government sources have been saying for weeks that Arab governments seeking to oust Assad, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been pressing for such missiles, also known as MANPADs, for man-portable air-defense systems, to be supplied to the rebels.
In recent days, air operations against the rebels by Syrian government forces appear to have been stepped up, particularly around the contested city of Aleppo, making the rebels' need for MANPADs more urgent.
Precisely what kind of MANPADs have been delivered to Syrian rebels is unclear and NBC News did not provide details. Such weapons range from the primitive to highly sophisticated.
And even if the rebels do have the weapons, it is unclear whether they have the training to operate them effectively against Assad's air forces in the immediate future.
U.S. and allied officials acknowledged that officials of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were discussing whether surface-to-air missiles might help Syrian rebels bring down Russian-made helicopters and other aircraft the Syrian army was using to move troops between trouble spots.
Following the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, some intelligence experts estimated that as many as 10,000-15,000 MANPADs sets were looted from Libyan government stockpiles. The whereabouts of most of these are unknown.
Many U.S. officials have been wary of the notion of arming Syrian rebels with MANPADs, noting that they could be easily turned on targets other than the Syrian government, including civilian airliners.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the CIA, with Saudi backing, provided sophisticated shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Islamic fighters seeking to oust Soviet troops.
Anti-Semitism has remained a big problem in Hungary, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.
20,730 foreign fighters, including about 11,000 people from the Middle East, went to Iraq and Syria.
Unemployment is major challenge for Sisi, thousands seek jobs in Libya despite violence and chaos.
Until now, Israel has denied the deaths and injuries.
After the tropical storm Madagascar's government appealed for international aid.
Kathrin Oertel also stepped down, citing media pressure.
After U.S. bans first choice, Iran names new U.N. ambassador as Gholamali Khoshroo.
Under the new Saudi king, relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to remain unchanged as their rivalry in the Middle East region continues, say experts.
Natives of the war-torn Syrian city are impatiently waiting to return their old homes but realities on the ground could prevent them from leaving immediately.
Prolonged process of setting up an Afghan Cabinet continues after parliament rejects president's choices.
Israeli FM said Israel should be responded to harshly and disproportionately, just as China or the U.S. would in similar circumstances.
Belgian politician likens government's plans to revoke foreign fighter citizenship to methods used by Nazis.
NGOs detail failures of criminal justice system in dealing with children.
For the United States the new year brought a shift in the scales of power in Washington.
Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) was holding the Bulgarians captive.
The agreement includes a defense pact between Russia and Abkhazia that obligates both sides to come to each other's aid in the event of aggression.