The US State Department today blasted as “ludicrous” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement that while not directly providing arms to the Syrian rebels, they have been coordinating the importation of such arms from other nations.
Where did Russia get such an idea? From several reports in major US newspapers citing US officials who said exactly that, that the US has been “coordinating” arms smuggling from the Qatari and Saudi governments by way of Turkey.
The Russian comments come a day after a top Russian general reported that Syrian rebels are arming themselves with US-made Stinger missiles, a charge which US officials denied, but which given the massive number of Stinger missiles sold to nations in the region seems impossible for the US to totally rule out.
Officially and publicly, the US is only providing “non-lethal” aid to the rebels, which means they aren’t directly providing weaponry, even though officials have admitted several times that they have played a key role in smuggling weapons provided by others.
The US has been opposed to being publicly linked to the arms shipments because of the large percentage of weapons that were acquired by al-Qaeda-linked factions inside Syria. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has also threatened to attack civilian airliners in Syrian airspace, so if the US is implicated in shipments of anti-aircraft weaponry they could conceivably be blamed for such attacks.