Three days ago, an article by Syria Report detailed the activities of militant groups in the south. An organisation calling itself the Yarmouk Martyrs brigade, famous for abducting UN personnel on two occasions, stealing UN vehicles and executing captured soldiers – received foreign weapons. Evidence suggests that a myriad of insurgent groups have received foreign weapons from Croatia in an operation coordinated by the United States, Turkey, Jordan & Saudi Arabia.
The arms trafficking was implemented with at least 160 military cargo flights from Croatia, as reported by the New York Times following an exposé by a Croatian newspaper.
The weapons transported to factions were the M79 Osa anti-tank weapon, the RBG-6 grenade launcher, the M60 recoilless rifle, and the RPG-22. Each of these has been spotted hundreds of times in footage uploaded by some of Syria’s myriad of militant organisations, of which there are said to be over a thousand. Indeed, the weapons are all currently used by the Croatian military. Additionally, it should be noted that several other types of foreign-produced weapons have been spotted in Syria, such as assault rifles and sniper rifles.
Recently, a number of images uploaded by Jabhat al-Nusra indicated skirmishes with Syrian forces in Busra al-Sham, close to the border with Jordan. In the images, the M60 recoilless anti-tank rifle, included in the foreign effort to arm insurgents, can be seen:
This isn’t the first instance of Jabhat al-Nusra being seen operating weapons, in their possession most likely as a result of the operation to arm militant groups.
The following image from February shows a Jabhat al-Nusra militant handling a M79 Osa anti-tank weapon. The image was included with a statement posted on an global Jihadist online forum, which detailed an insurgent operation involving a number of allied groups. The reality of of co-operating insurgent factions, increasingly under the command of Jabhat al-Nusra, casts significant doubt on American statements regarding “identifying” and arming the “right” groups. The reality also underlines the doubts and fears felt by many, firstly, that militant groups are untrustworthy, extremist in their outlook, ideology and operation, and have committed countless war crimes. Indeed, the nature of the armed opposition vindicates comments by Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad who spoke of the multiple terror groups who have no political platform to speak of.
On 2 March, another operation in Dara’a province by Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups, shows a M60 recoilless gun being used to attack an army outpost, Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir. Again, this type of weapon was part of the global and regional operation to arm militant groups in Syria.
In the video below, from Al-Jazeera Arabic, the M79 Osa anti-tank weapon can be seen, in the hands of a Jabhat al-Nusra insurgent.
All of the images and footage substantiate a January report from Alikhbaria Syria, showing a massive seizure of some of the arms destined for militants. The seizure was made in Dara’a, again, close to the border with Jordan and the same region in which Jabhat al-Nusra and other Jihadist groups have been spotted with the weapons.
M60 Recoilless Gun
M79 Osa anti-tank launcher
Milkor multiple grenade launcher
Syria Report will continue to monitor media channels and post further sightings of foreign arms in the hands of militant groups.
Read our detailed report on another organisation which received foreign arms.