Exclusively for SouthFront by J.Hawk
There has been a spate of reports circulating in the media suggesting that advanced US Javelin ATGMs have found their way to Kurdish rebels fighting in Syria. Are these reports based on fact?
Most likely not. So far the only “tangible” evidence of Javelins in Syria is the photo above, plus a blurry video showing a white pick-up truck being attacked by a missile with a Javelin-like “diving” flight trajectory. Neither of these two pieces of evidence is wholly convincing. The video may have been doctored, or it may be a fragment of a film showing US Javelin use during the war in Iraq, where many of these missiles were used, including against “soft” unarmored targets. As to the photo above, there is nothing visible in that image that would confirm the existence of an actual Javelin firing unit or missile, only styrofoam and, apparently, glass fiber, with the contraption mounted on what appears to be a camera tripod.
There is also circumstantial evidence against Javelins in Syria. The US is highly unlikely to provide such an advanced weapon to a non-state actor with unpredictable loyalties. Given that Syrian Kurds do have ties to the PKK just across the border, it would be only a matter of time before the Javelins were used against Turkish armored vehicles in either Turkey or Iraq. When the US does provide somewhat modern weapons, for example the TOW-2A, it does so to groups which are fundamentally aligned with Turkey, not against it. Finally, if the US were providing such weapons (plural) to the Kurds, we should be seeing more photos and videos of them which would dispel all doubts. None have been published since these initial “leaks”, which further suggests that the Kurds do not have such weapons at their disposal. They may well be used by US special operations troops who are assisting the Kurds, but even then in relatively small numbers and solely by US personnel who no doubt are under strict instructions not to provide top US weapons to the Kurdish insurgents.
Therefore why the fake? There are two possible explanations. One is that it is simply battlefield deception. The Kurds naturally want to intimidate their current or prospective adversaries (ISIS and, of course, Turkey) by leading them to believe that the US is well and truly arming them with high-tech weapons. Secondly, it might be a psychological weapon aimed at Turkey, to provoke its leadership to do something rash against the US, which in turn would compel the US to finally stop trying to reconcile the irreconcilable Turkish and Kurdish interests and come down firmly on the side of the Kurds.
Ultimately, let’s not forget: this is a war. Where the first casualty is always the truth.