#Syria – The Moderate Rebels: A Growing List of Vetted Groups Fielding BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

The most notable form of direct American support to the Syrian opposition has been the supply of BGM-71 TOW tube launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided anti-tank missiles to rebel groups, vetted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The missiles themselves most likely come from Saudi Arabia’s stockpile, although by law the supply of American-made weapons to a third party must be approved by the U.S. Reports indicate that the TOWs are handed out to groups by the Northern and Southern MOC (Military Operations Command) based in Turkey and Jordan respectively, that are run by Western and Arab intelligence agencies. Groups apply for missiles for specific operations, and small batches are supplied by the MOC as needed. No more than a handful are given to a group at any time. In order to prove the rebel groups are not selling them or giving them away, each launch must be recorded and spent casings returned to the MOC. It is due to these requirements that there is such a wealth of knowledge regarding which groups have been supplied with and fielded these weapons.

While the TOWs themselves are not a super-weapon by any means, and are comparable to other ATGMs that are present in Syria they indicate a visible form of American involvement. Several hundreds of missiles have been supplied to opposition brigades, and the program is now a common and devastating fixture on the battlefield. However because each launch must be recorded, a false impression is created that the TOWs are more influential in the war than they actually are. The Syrian rebels have at their disposal a wide variety of anti-tank weaponry, almost entirely captured from Syrian government stockpiles, none of which are required to be recorded and uploaded onto the internet with each launch. These include guided missiles such as the Russian-made 9M113 Konkurs, 9K1152 Metis-M, 9M133 Kornet, Chinese-made HJ-8 (supplied by Qatar), French-German MILAN ATGM as well as non-guided anti-armour weaponry.

This covert and highly successful TOW program is run by the CIA and is separate from the American Department of Defense’s highly publicized and now-failed train-and-equip program that sought to counter only ISIS. Despite the safe measures put in place by the MOC, both the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State have captured a small number of these weapons. Regardless the program seems to not only be continuing but constantly expanding. The following is a list of all rebel groups that have used TOW missiles. The groups approved by the CIA to take part in the TOW program overwhelmingly belong to the FSA and all have stated their commitment to letting the Syrian people decide their own future. The strengths of these groups range from several hundred to several thousand fighters.

List Overview: 

13th Division (Forqat 13)

101st Division Infantry (Forqat 101 Masha’a)

Knights of Justice Brigade (Liwa’ Fursan al-Haqq)

Falcons of the Mountain Brigade (Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal)

Grouping of the Falcons of Al-Ghab (Tajamuu Suqour al-Ghab)

1st Coastal Division (Forqat Awwal al-Sahli)

Gathering of Dignity (Tajammu al-Izza’)

Central Division (Al-Forqat al-Wasti)

46th Division (Forqat 46)

Sultan Murad Brigade (Liwa’ Sultan Murad)

Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, (Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki)

Mujahideen Army/Army of Holy Warriors (Jaish al-Mujahideen)

Revolutionaries of al-Sham Brigades (Kata’eb Thuwar al-Sham)

1st Regiment (Al-Fauj al-Awwal)

Ahmed al-Abdo Martyrs’ Force (Quwwat al-Shaheed Ahmad al-Abdo)

Al-Rahman Legion (Faylaq al-Rahman)

Martyrs of Islam Brigade (Liwa’ Shuhadah al-Islam)

Yarmouk Army (Jaish al-Yarmouk)

Lions of Sunnah Division (Forqat Usood al-Sunnah)

the 18th March Division (Forqat 18 Adhar)

Southern Tawhid Brigade (Liwa’ Tawhid al-Junoub)

Hamza Division (Forqat al-Hamza)

1st Artillery Regiment (Al-Fauj al-Awwal Madfa’a)

Syria Revolutionaries Front – Southern Sector (Jabhat Thuwar Souriya)

The First Corps (Faylaq al-Awwal)

The Dawn of Unity Division (Forqat Fajr al-Tawhid)

Salah al-Din Division (Forqat Salah al-Din)

Omari Brigades (Tajammu Alwiyat al-Omari)

Unity Battalions of Horan Brigade (Liwa’ Tawhid Kata’eb Horan)

Youth of Sunnah Brigade (Liwa’ Shabbab al-Sunnah)

Moataz Billah Brigade (Liwa’ Moataz Billah)

Sword of al-Sham Brigades (Alwiyat Saif al-Sham)

Dawn of Islam Division (Forqat Fajr al-Islam)

Supporters of Sunnah Brigade (Liwa’ Ansar al-Sunnah)

Horan Column Division (Forqat Amoud Horan)

Emigrants and Supporters Brigade (Liwa’ Muhajireen wal Ansar)

Military Council in Quneitra and the Golan

United Sham Front (Jabhat al-Sham Muwahidda)

69th Special Forces Division (Forqat 69 Quwwat al-Khassa)

11th Special Forces Division (Forqat 11 Quwwat al-Khassa)

Partisans of Islam Front (Jabhat Ansar al-Islam)

Al-Furqan Brigades (Alwiyat al-Furqan)

Movement of Steadffastness (Harakat Hazm)

Syria Revolutionaries Front (Jabhat Thuwar Souriya)

Read more: https://hasanmustafas.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/the-moderate-rebels-a-complete-and-growing-list-of-vetted-groups-fielding-tow-missiles/