After talks today in London, Secretary of State John Kerry announced an increase in “all aspects” of aid to the Syrian rebels, including weapons shipments, though he declined to discuss specifics on what weapons this would involve.
Syria’s rebels have recently enjoyed an influx of US anti-tank (TOW) missiles, though they have also sought anti-aircraft weapons, which the US has so far not provided them. The rebels have openly threatened to use anti-aircraft missiles against civilian airliners in Syrian airspace, explaining the US reticence.
Kerry assured that the weapons are only going to “carefully vetted” rebel factions, though since all weapons in the past seem to quickly end up distributed across the rebel spectrum, it isn’t clear how the US hopes to keep that happening this time.
The US and Britain have both given the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) rebel faction diplomatic status, and their leadership has been using that to lobby heavily for increased weapons shipments, saying the arms sent so far are insufficient to turn the tide of the war in their favor. The SNC’s own fighters are extremely minimal inside Syria, but the group has been favored by US and British officials so far.