Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Soddy Barbaria helping Syrian rebels

Soddy Barbaria has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to antigovernment fighters in Syria in a drive to break the bloody stalemate that has allowed President Basher al-Assad to cling to power, according to American and Western officials familiar with the purchases
The weapons began reaching rebels in December via shipments shuttled through Jordan, officials said, and have been a factor in the rebels’ small tactical gains this winter against the army and militias loyal to Assad
The arms transfers appeared to signal a shift among several governments to a more activist approach to assisting Syria’s armed opposition, in part as an effort to counter shipments of weapons from Iran to Assad’s forces. The weapons’ distribution has been principally to armed groups viewed as nationalist and secular, and appears to have been intended to bypass the jihadist groups whose roles in the war have alarmed Western and regional powers

A mortar shell from the former Yugoslavia in seen in the hand of a rebel in Syria

Washington’s role in the shipments, if any, is not clear. Officials in Europe and the United States, including those at the Central Intelligence Agency, cited the sensitivity of the shipments and declined to comment publicly
But one senior American official described the shipments as “a maturing of the opposition’s logistical pipeline.” The official noted that the opposition remains fragmented and operationally incoherent, and added that the recent Saudi purchase was “not in and of itself a tipping point”
“I remain convinced we are not near that tipping point,” the official said

A recoilless gun from the former Yugoslavia in Syria

While Persian Gulf Arab nations have been sending military equipment and other assistance to the rebels for more than a year, the difference in the recent shipments has been partly of scale. Officials said multiple planeloads of weapons have left Croatia since December, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube
Many of the weapons — which include a particular type of Yugoslav-made recoilless gun, as well as assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars and shoulder-fired rockets for use against tanks and other armored vehicles — have been extensively documented by one blogger, Eliot Higgins, who writes under the name Brown Moses and has mapped the new weapons’ spread through the conflict

The M79 Osa, an anti-tank weapon of Yugoslav origin, seized from Syria’s opposition
News report here. Brown Moses blog here.