Editors Notes: Here’s a visual reference to support the report- Syrian Rebel in Homs aiming M16A2 – Image Credit: AP: 01/31/2012
In addition to such projects, the rebels have acquired many arms and weapons components from smugglers. These include blasting caps for bombs and telephone components used to manufacture remote-control detonators. And the rebels have been aided, they said, by what once would have seemed an unlikely source: the Pentagon’s distribution of weapons for Iraq’s security forces.
Two days before Mustafa showed his mortar, a Sunni tribesman who used the name Abu Khaled arrived in a truck at a residential compound used as a rebel base. Abu Khaled, who has family members in Anbar Province, Iraq, and in eastern Syria, was a smuggler dropping off arms.
On this day he had three R.P.D. light machine guns, a 60-millimeter mortar, five mortar rounds and a sack of 7.62x54R rifle cartridges. The rebels said Abu Khaled had been one of their steady suppliers, and had been ferrying in weapons from Iraq since the uprising began last year.
In an interview, Abu Khaled said he acquired his weapons from the Iraqi Army and police officers, who freely sold old stock and weapons provided to them by the United States. “They sell everything,” he said, referring to what he described as Iraq’s corrupt security forces.
He gestured to the mortar rounds. “I bought these from Shia people who had received them from U.S. troops,” he said.
Abdul Hakim Yasin, a rebel commander who received him at the compound, paid him, handing over a thick wad of Syrian pounds.
After a meal shared with the fighters and their commander, Abu Khaled and two men who traveled with him soon departed. They were equipped with a fresh shopping list, including a request that they buy shoulder-fired, antiaircraft missiles — one class of weapon the rebels routinely say they need, but that cannot be made in garages.
Read More: NYT