Saudi Arabia has been purchasing missiles from suppliers in France and Belgium since two months ago and has sent them to militants in Syria, a report says.
France has paid for the transport of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, which were intended for the leader of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) Salim Idriss, Riyadh’s “point man” in anti-Syria armed groups, Reuters reported on Monday.
A day earlier, German news weekly Der Spiegel said the German foreign intelligence service had received a report which showed Riyadh was trying to obtain European-made mistral-class man-portable air-defense systems for the militants in Syria.
Idriss called on the West on Friday to provide the militants with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, saying the armed groups could defeat the Syrian army within six months if they received enough and proper weapons.
The FSA’s political coordinator Louay Meqdad has also said the group will ask for tanks, warplanes, and other heavy weapons during an upcoming meeting with US and Western officials in Turkey.
The European Union recently ended its arms embargo on Syria to pave the way for sending weapons to the militants.
On June 14, US President Barack Obama ordered his administration to provide the militants in Syria with weapons, which include assault rifles, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank missiles.
Western powers and their Middle Eastern allies are also seeking to impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, a plan that has drawn strong criticism from Russia.
“I think that we will not permit in principle such a scenario,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.
“We saw with the example of Libya how such a zone is introduced and how such decisions are implemented. We do not want a repeat of this in respect to the Syria conflict,” he added.
The Syrian army, supported by Hezbollah forces, has managed to push back the militants from the strategic town of Qusayr and launched a massive assault on the militants in the northern city of Aleppo.