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VICE News

Video Shows Syrian Rebels Take Down Enemy Tank With a Missile Launcher, Which They Likely Got From the US

A video shows Syrian rebels take down a tank with sophisticated anti-tank equipment, which they probably got as part of a US pilot program.

by Alice Speri
Aug 12 2014, 5:00pm

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A video shared on social media by the Liwa al-Adiyat rebel group shows Syrian rebels destroying an enemy tank with a TOW missile — a sophisticated, US-made, anti-tank missile.

The video — which the group says was taken on Monday near the town of Baraka, in Latakia province —shows the "tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided" missile, an anti-tank "guided" missile, slowly reach the tank — which explodes.

"What you're seeing is the missile, the reason it moves about so awkwardly is it's adjusting course in flight," Eliot Higgins, a weapons and Syria conflict expert who blogs under the alias Brown Moses, told VICE News.

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In recent months, Syria's rebels have posted a number of videos showing them targeting regime forces with similar equipment.

The advanced weapons, which have been surfacing around the country, are likely part of a US "pilot program" introduced earlier this year to boost the rebels' struggle against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which is now in its fourth year.

"There's been a big increase in videos of these in the past few weeks, just after the Islamic State was formed, interestingly enough," Higgins said. "[The weapons] are almost certainly coming from the US and allies, and are being seen used by an increasing number of 'moderate' opposition groups."

Since March, both the US and Saudi Arabia have been providing Syrian fighters with American-made anti-tank equipment — according to reports confirmed by several unnamed officials, but neither confirmed nor denied by the White House.

"The US is committed to building the capacity of the moderate opposition, including through the provision of assistance to vetted members of the moderate armed opposition," a White House spokeswoman said in April, according to the Wall Street Journal. "As we have consistently said, we are not going to detail every single type of our assistance."

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