Syrian Rebels Acquiring Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Al-Qaeda's Involvement Fuels Fears of Regional Airspace

Multiple Syrian rebel videos hyping the acquisition by various factions of MANPADS, shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, is fueling fears about even more spillover violence from Syria’s civil war, and what al-Qaeda’s involvement might be.

The acquisition of such weapons has been a goal of multiple rebel factions, and with the pro-US rebels declaring civilian aircraft “legitimate” targets for such weapons, there is major concern over what impact this might have on air travel across the region.

How much of this is in the hands of al-Qaeda or its auxiliaries remains unclear, but could set the stage for attacks not just in Syria, but region-wide.

Large caches of such weapons are on the black market since NATO’s regime change in Libya lead to looting of Gadhafi-era depots. The Syrian rebels have also taken some domestic arms depots, though it is unclear if such weapons were among the loot in that operation.

Weapons are also getting smuggled to the rebels from neighboring Turkey, though the Turkish government reportedly seized a major cache of weapons bound for Syria earlier today, including bazookas and some 1,200 warheads.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.