OCCRP: US armed Syrian opposition fighters with Soviet-made weapons

The US Department of Defense purchased Soviet-made weapons from Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine for Syrian rebels. This was stated in the published results of the months-long investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

It was reported that for these purchases, the US lowered the requirements for production standards. The weapons are intended for Syrian opposition fighting against the terrorists of the Islamic state. "The Pentagon hired an entire army of contractors and subcontractors from rich military-industrial corporations to firms with links to organized crime," the results of the investigation say.

"According to the thousands of procurement documents analyzed by the journalists of BIRN and OCCRP, by May 2017 the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) had acquired weapons and ammunition from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine for a total of $238.5 million," the OCCRP writes.

The trail of arms supplies to Syria has been recreated through procurement documentation, ship tracking systems, official reports, e-mails and interviews with insider sources. Supplies were reportedly provided separately from the now-defunct CIA program for arming opposition fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to the results of the investigation, the Pentagon purchases weapons through two channels: through the Special Operations Command, which manages special operations in all types of US armed forces, and through Picatinny Arsenal, a military research and manufacturing facility in the state of New Jersey. The weapons are transported from Europe to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait both by sea and air. Then, with the help of airplanes and trucks, it is distributed between US allies in the north and south of Syria.

According to some organizations, the purchase of Soviet-made weapons began in September 2015 during the presidency of Barack Obama. In general, the United States spent $2.2 billion on said armaments and ammunition. The Pentagon, justified such unprecedented large-scale purchases by explaining that the pace of supplies was "increasing", and this is "the necessary minimum for an urgent task".

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) previously worked on such projects as the Panama Papers, and also published information on PrivatBank's financial transactions before nationalization.

  Syrian opposition, Ukraine, Weapons, USA