On how fear of Syrian Islamist rebels getting advanced weaponry and attacking the country's neighbors in future has shifted U.S. policy see here. On the spread of weapons from Libya, see here.
And this brings us to the best of all, the SA24. While some have been misidentified, they were obtained from the 46th Syrian regiment base west of Aleppo.
There are a number of videos available though in many cases it is not clear whether the rebels also have the grip stick without which the missile is inoperable. Some videos that purport so show operational SA24s are merely training equipment that cannot be used in combat.
New information: According to the UN experts' report on smuggling from Libya, SA-24s were found--contrary to other sources--among weapons being sent to the Syrian rebels on the intercepted Letfallah II ship.
Incidentally, while Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida has not been seen with MANPADS, it has been shown to have obtained some of the Croatian heavy weapons distributed within Syria. These were supposedly to be kept out of its hands due to U.S. policy of not letting the arms coming into Syria through Saudi-Turkish efforts get to such dangerous enemies. The new proclamation by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that Jabhat al-Nusra is part of his organization is worrisome. Even though it has long been known that Jabhat al-Nusra was affiliated with al-Qaida, if this statement is true it is now directly under an organization responsible for the deaths of scores of American soldiers and civilians in Iraq.
The earlier declaration from two dozen insurgent Salafist groups in Syria which defended Jabhat al-Nusra against a U.S. attempt to isolate it is worrisome. How can Jabhat al-Nusra be isolated when it has so many allies? How will advanced weapons be kept out of al-Qaida's hands when it is being given to friendly Salafist militias? In other words, in a real sense, albeit unintentionally, U.S. policy is backing al-Qaida. It is not true that the United States supported Usama bin Ladin in Afghanistan, since it was backing different groups and at the time bin Ladin's backing was coming from Saudi Arabia. But now, after September 11, the United States is not only again involved in an insurgency where bin Ladinist forces are as well but also many of the other groups are sympathetic to them.
What is most dangerous is not that Salafist groups, including al-Qaida, will take over Syria politically but that they will be given a relatively free scope to act as they please. The U.S. government is basically putting its hope on a Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition or even a Muslim Brotherhood regime restraining al-Qaida, which might happen if Jabhat al-Nusra attacks the new Syrian regime and thus faces repression at its hands.
If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you're welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.
This article is published on PJMedia.