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Entries in arming the rebels (6)


Syria Round-Up: Insurgent Advances and Foreign-Supplied Weapons

Croatian Rak-12 Rocket Launcher in Rebel HandsA roundup of the most important developments in Syria over the weekend:

On Friday, Syrian insurgents captured Dael, a key crossroads town in Daraa Province. The victory, strategically important, demonstrated how international military support for the opposition is changing the face of the Syrian conflict. The group that led the attack, the Dawn of Islam Brigade, is central to the Saudi efforts to arm the opposition fighters with Croatian weapons, many of which were used to capture Dael.

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Syria Exclusive: The Western-Armed Insurgents Who Executed POWs and Captured UN Peacekeepers

 The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, filmed last Wednesday, explaining how they seized United Nations peacekeepers to force Assad to retreat from Jamlah village near the Golan Heights

The insurgent brigade that detained 21 UN peacekeepers near the Golan Heights last week, and that executed prisoners of wars day before that, is one of the groups that has obtained foreign arms, research by EA has established.

The revelation's follows last month's discovery, highlighted on EA, that the US is backing an effort by Gulf nations to arm elements within the Syrian opposition.

Last week, as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade seized the UN peacekeepers, video evidence indicated that it had killed a group of captives in cold blood.

Now we have further video evidence linking the Brigade to the US-supported initiative, from at least January, to get advanced weapons through Jordan into the hands of fighters in Daraa Province in southern Syria..

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Syria Audio Analysis: Why Politics Means No Humanitarian Aid - Scott Lucas with Monocle 24 Lucas speaks to Monocle 24 Radio about the reasons why we're seeing countries scramble to give other types of aid to the rebels, but humanitarian aid is almost nowhere to be seen. In fact, less than a quarter of the humanitarian aid that has been pledged to those affected by this crisis has been delivered. The Saudis, in particular, have been criticized for their lack of aid.

Scott Lucas was joined by David Schenker of the Washington Institute. Scott's assessment - this is politics, the Saudis and the Qataris are focused on trying to pick a winner in the insurgency, and the refugees are almost on their own, while the few countries that are housing refugees have not received the assistances they've asked for.

The interview starts after the 1 hour 6 minute mark, and can be heard here.

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Syria Analysis: A New Insurgent Alliance --- With New Weapons --- Is Changing the War 

Rebel fighters gather men and firepower, including a Yugoslavian M-60 recoilless rifle, to attack the Hamidiyah base near Ma'arrat al Nouman.

Yesterday's dramatic news was the insurgency['s capture of an airbase, complete with working fighter jets, in Aleppo Province and the assault against the largest Assad base in the north, near Aleppo International Airport.

This surge is at least partially the result of new weapons and new organisation of insurgency groups in Daraa and Damascus, with ample evidence that the boost in arms is courtesy of foreign powers.

Now a new piece of evidence bolsters the assessment that these weapons are coming from outside Syria, and also gives insight into the modified organisation of insurgent groups. Eliot Higgins presents this video:

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Syria Special: The Insurgent Offensive Against Damascus and the Foreign Weapons

A convoy of insurgents, armed with new weapons, moves into Al Qaddam in Damascus

The obvious question remains ---- who is sending these weapons to the opposition? We are still working on the answer.

However, beyond the source is the outcome: someone significant is arming the insurgency, and those arms are propelling them in an offensive attacking the heart of President Assad's regime.

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Syria Analysis: Someone is Arming the Insurgents...and It's Working

A Free Syrian Army member fires an RPG-22 on 12 January in Busr al Harir in Daraa Province

While foreign weapons have been seen in Syria, we have not encountered them on this scale. All this suggests a new, organised, and well-funded effort is under way to ensure that "moderate" fighters are capturing territory and weakening the Assad regime.

It is too early to tell whether there are enough weapons to make a long-term impact. None of them be used as an effective counter to Assad's primary threat, his fighter jets. However, if this is an experiment to see a surge in armament makes a difference, the answer is clear.

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