World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian opposition rebels from the Harakat Hazm group have appeared on Youtube videos operating what appears to be American-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).
Filmed around the Idlib region and published between on 1 and 5 April, three videos show the rebels firing the weapon from the back of a vehicle. Although it is too soon to jump to conclusions regarding how they acquired the weapon, the 1963-made BGM-71 TOW is known to have been sold to 40 countries worldwide and stocked in Israel, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and Turkey.
However, Iran is also believed to be in possession of several thousand BGM-71 TOWs which they used in the mid-1980s during the Iran-Contra Affair. It is also believed that Iran supplied Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which is also an active player in the Syrian civil war fighting for regime leader Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, the weapons may have been captured from them.
At the same time, the BGM-71 TOWs seen in the videos are distictly different to the customized versions used in Iran and seem that they have been newly made. Despite the apparently new appearances of the weapons, the fact that they used a wire show that they are an outdated model, as Raytheon developed wireless versions in the early 2000s.
Without directly accusing the US of providing the weapons to the opposition fighters, The Huffington Post noted that no allied country in possession of BGM-71 TOWs could pass them on to a third party without prior approval from Washington, unless they were obtained by illicit means.
Formed as a coalition of 12 minor rebel groups in January 2014, the Harakat Hazm is led by Murshid al-Khalid (Abu al-Muatassim), Mohammed al-Dahik (Abu Hatem), Secretary General Bilal Atar (Abu Abd al-Sham) military operations chief Awdu Abu Zaid and political affairs head Hamza Shamali (Abu Hashem). It is also believed to have links to ousted Free Syrian Army (FSA) general Selim Idriss.Last Mod: 10 Nisan 2014, 17:57