Syrian rebel leader explains US-made weapon mystery

Harakat Hazm commander 28-year-old Abdullah Awda said that his group had been granted the TOWs by 'friends of Syria' with US approval.

Syrian rebel leader explains US-made weapon mystery

World Bulletin / News Desk

After Syrian opposition rebels from the Harakat Hazm group appeared in videos filmed around the Idlib region operating what appears to be American-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), questions were raised as to how the rebels got their hands on them.

The Huffington Post at first noted that no allied country in possession of BGM-71 TOWs could pass them on to a third party without prior approval from the US government, unless they were obtained by illicit means. However, the US government later acknowledged that they had been passed on with their approval after Harakat Hazm was listed among six rebel units authorized to receive nonlethal aid, including vehicles and medical supplies.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Harakat Hazm commander 28-year-old Abdullah Awda said that his group had been granted the TOWs by 'friends of Syria' with US approval on the condition that they return the canister of each missile fired, protect them from theft and not resell them. Without going into further details, it was implied that these 'friends' were from allied Gulf nations.

Awda emphasized the professionalism, discipline and organization or the 5,000-strong Harakat Hazm group, which is mainly comprised of ad managed by breakaway soldiers rather than non-experienced combatants.

Although there is little known about Awda, he was among the first Syrian soldiers to breakaway from the regime army in June 2011 before he went on the gain a reputation as a good fighter in the Farouq al-Shamal opposition group.

The group was later integrated with commander Jamal Maarouf's Syrian Revolutionary Front, a coalition of opposition forces, but in January, Awda took 12 minor rebel groups with him to form the breakaway Harakat Hazm after Maarouf's group became allegedly engulfed in corruption. Harakat Hazm is also believed to have links to ousted Free Syrian Army (FSA) general Selim Idriss.

While Awda calls Maarouf “a good man,” he insists that Maarouf is a ”warlord,” and that Harakat Hazm rejects warlords. On the other hand, one of Maarouf's aides has accused Awda of being in pursuit of “foreign agendas.”

One of the reasons why Harakat Hazm was chosen above other groups to receive the TOWs was because of their passing the American criteria based political opinion test, as they remain committed to democracy.

“I want a democratic state that rules over all Syria with equality and freedom for all citizens, free of fascism and dictatorship,” Awda told the Washington Post, at the same time praising the delivery of the TOWs. The delivery “suggests a change in the US attitude toward allowing Syria’s friends to support the Syrian people. It’s psychological more than physical,” he added.

At the same time, Awda said that the TOWs were not enough to change the odds against the advancing Syrian regime, and criticized the US for failing to support the Syrian opposition against Bashar al-Assad. “The government’s friends were more faithful than our friends,” he said.

However, he proposed that Harakat Hazm would provide a solution disorganization and unstructured Syrian opposition, saying that he was working on building a quality and professional army.

Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2014, 12:57
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