Syrian rebels’ backers block arms cache until bickering factions unite

The Independent reports: Stockpiles of arms, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, are being held in Turkey for use by rebels in Syria’s civil war, but their distribution is being held up because of disunity and feuding between the different groups of fighters, The Independent has learned.

In high-level discussions, Qatari and Turkish suppliers told opposition representatives that heavy weapons would not be made available until the various factions agreed to form a coherent command structure.

After 18 months of fighting and an estimated 30,000 people dead, rebel fighters are convinced that the time for a negotiated end to the conflict is over. But they have been forced back from many areas by tanks, artillery and air strikes. The regime, meanwhile, has not faced any significant shortage of supplies, with US officials claiming that daily flights bearing arms are coming in from President Bashar al-Assad’s ally, Iran.

One attempt to set up an arms supply chain took place in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in early August. Opposition representatives were seeking weapons for Aleppo where the regime forces were beginning to push forward and recapture areas held by the rebels. According to those present, the Turks were acting as facilitators while the Qataris controlled the flow of material. Both the Qataris and Turks are said to have stressed to the opposition emissaries that the revolutionaries in the main cities, starting with Aleppo, needed to form structured military councils and come up with co-ordinated operational plans. [Continue reading…]

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