Sudan, new arms source for Syria militants: report

Sudan, new arms source for Syria militants: report
Tue Aug 13, 2013 21:47:32

Militants in Syria have reportedly added Sudan to their many foreign supporters for getting more arms as flow of weapons from their Arab and Western supporters goes on nonstop.

In deals that have not been publicly acknowledged, Western officials and Syria militants say, Sudan’s government sold Sudanese- and Chinese-made arms to Qatar, which arranged delivery through Turkey to the insurgents, a New York Times report said.

The shipments included antiaircraft missiles and newly manufactured small-arms cartridges, which were seen on the battlefield in Syria — all of which have helped the militants get more power to increase its attacks on people and Syrian army in different parts of the Arab country.

Emerging evidence that Sudan has fed the secretive arms pipeline to militants adds to a growing body of knowledge about where the foreign-backed insurgents are getting their military equipment, often paid for by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or other anti-Syria states.

Sudan’s involvement adds yet another complication to a war that is going on with no end in sight as the US and its allies decline to stop supporting the bloodshed.

The CIA has been training Syria militants in Jordan and there are official and unofficial reports of flow of arms falling into the hands of the militants from US and its allies.

The battle has evolved into a proxy fight for regional influence between Western powers and regional players.

Sudanese officials however have denied helping arm either side in the war.

Sudan has a history of providing weapons to armed groups while publicly denying its hand in such transfers. Its arms or ammunition has turned up in South Sudan, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Chad, Kenya, Guinea, Mali and Uganda, said Jonah Leff, a Sudan analyst for the Small Arms Survey, a research project.

It has provided weapons to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army; rebels in Libya; and the Janjaweed, the pro-government militias that are accused of a campaign of atrocities in Darfur.

“Sudan has positioned itself to be a major global arms supplier whose wares have reached several conflict zones, including the Syrian rebels,” said one American official who is familiar with the shipments to Turkey.

Other officials suggested that a simple motive was at work — money. Sudan is struggling with a severe economic crisis.

“Qatar has been paying a pretty penny for weapons, with few questions asked,” said one American official familiar with the transfers. “Once word gets out that other countries have opened their depots and have been well paid, that can be an incentive.”

Analysts suspect Sudan has sold several other classes of weapons to the militants, including Chinese-made antimateriel sniper rifles and antitank missiles, all of which have made debuts in the war this year but whose immediate sources have been uncertain.

Two American officials said Ukrainian-flagged aircraft had delivered the shipments. Air traffic control data from an aviation official in the region shows that at least three Ukrainian aviation transport companies flew military-style cargo planes this year from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to a military and civilian airfield in western Turkey.


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