Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, quoting documents released by the U.S. Government’s Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), the US –as part of its “counterterrorism campaign”– has provided Syrian rebels [aka moderate Al Qaeda] with large amounts of weapons and ammunition.
The US and its allies (including Turkey and Saudi Arabia) have relied on the illicit trade in light weaponry produced in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, China, etc. for delivery to rebel groups inside Syria, including ISIS-Daesh and Al Nusra. In turn, operating out of the occupied Golan Heights, Israel’s IDF has provided weapons, ammunition, logistical support to Al Qaeda rebels operating in Southern Syria. While Washington’s Middle East allies undertake shady transactions in a buoyant market for light weapons, a significant part of these illicit weapons shipments are nonetheless directly commissioned by the US government.
These shipments of weapons are not conducted through internationally approved weapons transfers. While they are the result of a Pentagon (or US government) procurement, they are not recorded as “official” military aid. They use private traders and shipping companies within the realm of a thriving illicit trade in light weapons. Based on the examination of a single December 2015 Pentagon sponsored shipment of more than 990 tons, one can reasonably conclude that the amounts of light weapons in the hands of ”opposition” rebels inside Syria is substantial and exceedingly large.
Background: U.S. Weapons Supply Routes “Via Third Countries” Although the bulk of the weapons and ammunition supplied to the Syrian rebels (including the FSA, Al Qaeda affiliated entities and ISIS-Daesh) are channelled by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the US is also involved in the routine delivery (originating from third countries) of light weapons to the rebels including anti-tank and rocket launchers. America’s weapons shipments to Syria’s rebels are commissioned by the Pentagon (and/or a US government agency) through several intermediaries via private weapons trading and shipping companies from the Black Sea port city of Constanta.
None of these weapons under this de facto (unofficial) “US military aid” program are “Made in the USA”. These light weapons purchased in Eastern Europe and the Balkans in the illicit market are relatively inexpensive. Moreover, Washington’s decision not to send US made weaponry to the rebels is meant to uphold the camouflage. No doubt, what Washington wants is to ensure that US and/or Western made weapons are not found in the hands of terrorists.
As we recall, the White House narrative at the outset of the war in 2011 was: “humanitarian aid” to the rebels, coupled with “some military gear….[but no weapons]” (BBC, October 10, 2015) US military aid to the rebels channeled (unofficially) through the illicit market, is routine and ongoing. In December 2015, a major US sponsored shipment of a staggering 995 tons of weapons was conducted in blatant violation of the ceasefire. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the U.S. “is providing [the weapons] to Syrian rebel groups as part of a programme that continues despite the widely respected ceasefire in that country [in December 2015].”
According to Jane, the shipments of weapons on behalf of the US are entrusted to private weapons traders and shipping companies: “The FBO has released two solicitations in recent months [early 2015] looking for shipping companies to transport explosive material from Eastern Europe to the Jordanian port of Aqaba on behalf of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.” (Jane.com April 2016) The shipments of weapons purchased and funded by the US are carefully coordinated, with deliveries to rebels in the North and South of Syria respectively.
The weapons are shipped out of the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta (December 2015): 1) First, to the Turkish Eastern Mediterranean facility of Agalar-Limani near Tasucu in support of rebels in Northern Syria, to be smuggled into Syria with the support of the Turkish authorities. (half the shipment unloaded) 2) The remainder of the shipment to the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba (for rebels in Southern Syria) via the Suez canal. From Aqaba, the weapons would be smuggled into Syria through the Southern Syria-Jordanian border. According to Jane, the cargo of light weaponry included AK-47 rifles, PKM general-purpose machine guns, DShK heavy machine guns, RPG-7 rocket launchers, and 9K111M Faktoria anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) systems.
It is worth noting that a large share of the RPG rocket launchers were slated for delivery to Northern Syria (see table below). Also of significance, the Black Sea route to Syria has also been used to ship Ukrainian weapons to Al Qaeda and ISIS Daesh. Sputnik, June 5, 2016 994 Tons of Weapons in a Single shipment, Courtesy of Uncle Sam The following table provides information on the breakdown of the weapons shipment for December 2015 documented by Jane Defense Weekly. Bear in mind the numbers pertain to a single shipment in December 2015, expressed in kilos (kg).
The amounts are substantial: The 7.62 x 39 mm refers to ammunition for an AK47. Namely the shipment of 134 tons of ammunition. The PG 7 VM (2 kg) and PV7 VT (3.3 kg) are anti-tank grenades (which suggests that more than 25,000 PG 7VM units were included in the shipment, and more than 60,000 PG 7VT.) The total shipment to Aqaba and Agalar is of the order of 994 tons of “humanitarian” R2P light weapons for the “Moderates” in Syria. (in a single shipment out of Romania) among numerous comparable shipments by sea as well as by air. PG 7VM Anti-tank […]
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