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Syrian rebels have Stingers, Russia says

Oct. 24, 2012 at 9:36 AM

MOSCOW, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S.-made Stinger missiles have found their way into the hands of Syrian rebels but it's unclear how they were delivered, a Russian commander said.

Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying there was "reliable evidence" to suggest Syrian rebels were using the Stinger missile, a man-portable air defense system.

"We need to look into" who delivered them, he added.

The Russian news service quotes a U.S. State Department spokeswoman as saying the government was working to "withdraw MANPADS from circulation."

Stingers deployed to local forces in Afghanistan were attributed to turning the tide against Soviet forces in the 1980s. RIA Novosti reports Internet videos show Syrian rebels using Soviet-era Strela missiles, a MANPAD, in Aleppo.

The claims follow reports from Human Rights Watch that claim Syrian forces have used Soviet-era cluster bombs during the civil war.

"Syria's air force is imposing a reign of terror on civilians in rebel-held areas across the country with cluster bombs and other explosive weapons dropped from aircraft," Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Syrian peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi announced Wednesday the Syrian government has spoken in favor of a temporary halt to the fighting for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

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