Two investigative documents have emerged stating that the United States have been supplying arms and ammunitions purchased from several Eastern European countries to terrorists groups in Syria under the guise to fight Daesh.
According to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), over $700 million was spent on AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, mortars, and other weapons and ammunition.
The report states Washington is using “vaguely worded legal documents which obscure Syria as the weapons’ final destination – a practice experts say threatens global efforts to combat arms trafficking and puts the Eastern European governments who sell the weapons and ammunition at risk of breaching international law”.
The report investigated the Pentagon’s weapons shipment to Syria using procurement records, ship-tracking data, official reports, leaked emails, and interviews with insiders.
Another report by the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism says that the Pentagon purchased obsolete weapons worth $71 million (among which were AK-47 assault rifles, grenade launchers and mortars) in the Czech Republic, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.
“The Pentagon has used highly unusual and misleading legal documentation that exploits a loophole in the system designed to prevent diversions of arms to terrorists, embargoed groups, or war criminals,” the report stated.
One of the documents needed for obtaining an export license for weapons is called an end-user certificate, which must guarantee that weapons will not fall into the wrong hands. According to the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, the US Department of Defense provided false information for the certificate, claiming that the user would be the US Army.
Roy Isbister, a nonprofit organization helping to build safe zones in Saferworld conflict areas, says: "Americans, Europeans and many other states rely on end-user certificates as a key tool to prevent arms from being officially handed over to criminals, terrorists, guerrilla warriors, or brutal dictatorships that suppress civil liberties. If anyone who has end user certificates will decide to use or approve false data to cover the supply of weapons to Syria, he risks collapsing the entire control system".
The Pentagon is buying the arms through two channels: the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which oversees special operations across all services of the U.S. military, and the Picatinny Arsenal, a little-known U.S. Army weapons facility in New Jersey.
“More than $900 million has been contracted to be spent by 2022, and nearly $600 million more has been budgeted or requested by the Trump administration. This brings the grand total of the Pentagon’s intended spending on its Syrian allies to $2.2 billion,” the report states.