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WASHINGTON – Now that the United States has decided to ship small arms to the Syrian rebels, the job of keeping them out of the hands of al-Qaida groups linked to the opposition is going to be big, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
In addition, those same weapons could be used against any potential U.S. or other allied troops should the decision be made at a later time to introduce them into the conflict, according to regional analysts.
Nevertheless, the first shipments of U.S. weapons consisting of small arms and ammunition could be in the hands of Syrian rebels within the next week or so.
At the same time, the U.S. decision has given a green light to countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council to send in their own weapons. But theirs are heavy weapons including anti-tank guided missiles and man-portable air-defense systems.
The GCC countries consist of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All of these countries are monarchies and are Sunni in opposition to the Shiite Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It is about these weapons in particular that analysts worry, because they could be turned on the U.S. or its allies in the event they get into the hands of the Jabhat al-Nusra and its other al-Qaida-affiliated groups.
Experts believe that these foreign forces number some 50,000 and are taking over the fighting from the original Syrian opposition.
Various efforts now are under consideration in limiting the danger. For one thing, the weapons to be introduced would not be commonly accessible, nor would the ammunition be easy to obtain.
However, this could pose what analysts believe to be a logistical complication for the rebels themselves regarding ammunition. The weapons would be unusable if supplies ran out. However, there is such a black market in weapons and ammunition that an unauthorized resupply could occur.
Or, anti-aircraft weapons that can’t be easily hidden could be provided. In that way, they can be located and destroyed should they become a threat to friendly forces.
U.S. weapons will be provided by the Central Intelligence Agency through Jordan and Turkey. Often, such transactions are handled only through intelligence channels and not formal military channels. They are handed over to the rebel Supreme Military Council which in turn determines who receives the weapons and how they get to them.
Nevertheless, it will be a challenge for CIA to ensure that the proper groups obtain and keep the weapons.
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