US spent $2.2bn on Soviet-style arms for Syrian rebels, say BIRN and OCCRP


An investigation into the US Department of Defense's (DoD) arms spending has concluded that up to $2.2bn is being spent on Soviet-style arms and ammunition for Syrian rebels fighting against ISIS.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) conducted the investigation, which involved gathering information from procurement records, ship-tracking data, official reports and leaked emails to evaluate the DoD’s supply line.

The DoD is working with contractors and sub-contractors from the Balkans and Eastern Europe to implement the arms and ammunition supply programme.

It is also being backed by new suppliers from Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine.

Since the programme began in September 2015, more than $700m has been spent on AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, mortars, and other weapons and ammunition.

According to the report, more than $900m will be spent on the contract by 2022, while almost $600m has been requested by the Trump administration.

"The DoD is working with contractors and sub-contractors from the Balkans and Eastern Europe to implement the arms and ammunition supply programme."

The US is purchasing the arms through the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Picatinny Arsenal weapons facility in New Jersey, US.

The munitions are transported by both sea and air from Europe to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait, before being distributed to US allies in northern and southern Syria by plane and truck.

The report by BIRN and OCCRP claimed that the US is using indefinite legal documents to conceal the final destination and user of the weapons.

Last year, BIRN and OCCRP found that Saudi Arabia supported a €1.2bn arms pipeline to Syria.


Image: A female trainee with the Syrian Democratic Forces at her graduation ceremony in northern Syria on 9 August 2017. Photo: courtesy of Sgt. Mitchell Ryan for US Army.