27 Mar 2013

Syria’s Descent: what weapons do the rebels have?

Syrian rebels have amassed large arsenals of weapons – through smuggling and raids on government facilities. Channel 4 News reveals some of the weapons being used against Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The British and French governments are urging the UN to ease an arms embargo, meaning rebel groups could be easier supplied with weapons.

However, jihadist groups, which make up a large proportion of the rebel groups controlling areas of Syria, have already amassed a large number of tools with which to fight government forces.

Smuggling routes from Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Yemen and the Lebanon have helped provide the groups with weapons. At the same time, rebels have targeted military bases and ammunition depots.

Channel 4 News research has identified a complete list of the weapons already at the rebels’ disposal:

9K310 Igla-1, or SA-16 Gimlet

A Russian/Soviet infrared homing surface-to-air missile – used prominently in the Gulf War and also said to have been used in Rwanda and Bosnia

9K32 “Strela-2”- SA-7 Grail and AS-24

Soviet shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile with a highly explosive warhead and infrared homing guidance – the Strela has been used widely in nearly every regional conflict since 1968, including the Falklands War, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

BM21 GRAD rocket launcher

A truck-mounted rocket launcher system, originally developed in Russia in the 1960s, with variants made by a wide range of countries including North Korea, China, Egypt, Iran and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. One battalion of eighteen launchers is able to deliver 720 rockets in a single volley.

Katyusha multiple launch rocket system

A rocket launcher system, which can be mounted on vehicles, originally developed by the Soviet Union for use in the Second World War. They were allegedly used in the Six Days War, the 2006 Lebanon War, the Soviet-Afghan War and the 1990 invasion of Rwanda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

9K11 Malyutka or AT-3 Sagger

A guided anti-tank missile system, developed in the Soviet Union, which can be fired from a portable suitcase launcher. The system was reported to have been used in the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War and the 2011 Libyan civil war.

9K115-2 Metis-M

An anti-tank missile system, which can be transported in compact packs. It was reportedly used by Hezbollah fighters during the 2006 Lebanon War.

Sniper rifles

Anti tank RPG-29 AND SPG-9

Cannon 122m

Other weapons

Other weapons at the rebels disposal range from rifles to anti-aircraft weapons:

Self-made weapons

As well as gaining weapons through capture and smuggling, groups have also been successfully manufacturing their own weapons.

Videos on Youtube show inside factories where mortars and guns are being made, the Free Syria Army building siege guns and shells, and the manufacture of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry, including:

More on Syria's Descent - a special report from Channel 4 News