Report: Obama Considering Sending Jihadist Rebels In Syria Surface-To-Air Missiles… | Weasel Zippers - FACTOIDS
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Report: Obama Considering Sending Jihadist Rebels In Syria Surface-To-Air Missiles… | Weasel Zippers

White House officials are weighing whether to send surface-to-air missiles to opposition factions at the risk of a possible terrorist “nightmare”

A former CIA director has called them “our worst nightmare.” A 2005 study found that just one could blow a $15 billion hole in the world economy. And the Obama Administration is thinking about sending them to Syria.

They are shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, capable of knocking helicopters and low-flying planes out of the sky. Syria’s rebels and their Arab government backers insist those weapons could decisively reverse the momentum in Syria’s three-year civil war, which may recently have shifted in favor of Bashar Assad’s regime.

“The introduction of manpads could be a game changer in Syria, like it was in Afghanistan in the 1980s with Stinger missiles,” an Arab official tells TIME, adding that he believes the Obama Administration has begun discussing the idea more seriously. Other sources say the issue is being debated at the White House but that strong doubts remain about the wisdom of providing missiles to the rebels.

The issue is newly relevant amid recent reports that Syrian fighters are now using U.S.-made antitank weapons against Assad’s forces. Experts say it’s unlikely those weapons could have wound up in Syria without U.S. approval. Nor are they likely to shift the military balance in the conflict.

Antiaircraft missiles might. For a President unwilling to intervene directly in a conflict that has claimed upwards of 100,000 lives, they might seem an easy and inexpensive way to force out Assad. The Syrian dictator has employed his air supremacy to bomb rebel outposts, resupply isolated forces and force civilians to evacuate pro-rebel areas through terrorizing bombardments.

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