Where Will Libya's Shoulder-Fired Missiles Land?
Here’s a comforting thought: Somewhere out there are thousands of heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, perfect for shooting airplanes out of the sky and, at present, unaccounted for.
Up to 20,000 of them were under the close guard of Libya’s Col. Gaddafi until the Arab Spring began to bloom in the desert in his backyard.
ANTAKYA, Turkey —Some Syrian rebel factions have obtained advanced portable antiaircraft weapons, according to rebels and regional officials, a development that could alter the Syrian war’s trajectory and fan U.S. concerns that such weapons could end up in the hands of anti-Western Islamist militias.
Video footage uploaded to the Internet earlier this week appears to show rebels in Aleppo using weapons that military experts and rebels say are heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles, the first documented instance in the conflict. Versions of the weapons—also known as man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads—have been smuggled into the country over the past two months through Turkey and to a lesser extent Lebanon, according to Syrian rebels and those who supply them arms through an “operations room” coordinated by regional governments.
“Northern Syria is awash with advanced antitank and antiaircraft weapons. The situation has changed very quickly,” a Syrian involved in coordinating weapons procurement with regional states said. The Manpad transfers weren’t sanctioned by the regional states that have armed and financed Syria’s rebels since early this year, he added.
On Wednesday, fighters said they downed a military helicopter in the town of Maarat al-Nouman, in the northern Idlib province, one of at least four helicopters and jets they say they have brought down across Syria this week. It couldn’t be determined how the craft were brought down. But the reported incidents, three of which are documented on videos but couldn’t be independently verified, appear to mark an increased pace over the roughly weekly downings reported in Syria since the summer. More here...
Oct. 17 – Amateur video purports to show a Syrian military helicopter being shot down and exploding over the city of Idlib.