By Paul Alster
New YouTube video from the Syrian battlefield shows rebels firing the same high-powered sniper rifle favored by U.S. Navy SEALs, leaving some experts wondering who the ragtag army of insurgents might train the guns on in the future.
The British-made AS-50, accurate from a distance of 20 football fields, is made for British Special Forces and Navy SEALs. Video showing Syrian rebels, who are aligned with Al Qaeda, firing the guns and shouting “Alahu akbar,” has also raised questions about who is supplying such devastating hardware.
“The video, showing jihadist rebels of the ‘Descendents of the Prophet Brigade’ firing one of the world’s most effective sniper rifles, should be cause for alarm,” said David Reaboi, of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. “We don’t know who has been supplying this group (or the myriad others) with these weapons but, given the jihadist ideology of these groups, it’s only a matter of time until they’re turned on Americans or our allies and interests.”
The gun set a world record when a member of the British Household Cavalry in Afghanistan’s Helmand province killed two members of the Taliban with successive bullets over a recorded distance of more than 1.5 miles.
The Free Syrian Army has been receiving weapons from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – all close allies of the U.S. But the U.S. has repeatedly stated that it has sent no weapons to the opposition forces.
The U.S. State Department has acknowledged directly providing $385 million support to the Syrian people, including “emergency medical care and medical supplies, food aid, and winterization supplies like blankets and heaters for those affected by the crisis.” The site also reports that “over 4,000 major pieces of equipment have been provided, mostly to Damascus, Aleppo, and other areas with significant opposition presence, including communications and computer equipment, as well as generators.”
Experts said it could prove impossible to determine where the rebels got AS-50s and how many they have.
The sniper rifle, manufactured by Accuracy International – which sells arms to the Turkish and Saudi Arabian militaries – has a fearsome reputation. It has been used in various theaters of war in recent years by many elite forces, including both the SEALs and British Special Forces.
“I know from first-hand experience how revered the AI product is, even in the States, where traditionally US producers are favored,” a British Army sniping instructor told Wired in 2011.
Call of Duty, a warfare game that in 2009 sold more than 7 million copies in just one day, seemingly endorsed the already lofty reputation of the AS-50 by featuring the weapon in one of its many urban combat simulations, giving the sniper rifle something of an iconic following amongst players of the record-breaking video feature.
The Free Syrian Army has recently made significant territorial gains against government forces in the two-year-old bloody civil war that in March saw its worst ever body count, with independent monitors determining at least 6,000 people were killed.
The gun costs about $10,000, according to Reaboi, and each one could be around …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News