Turkistan Islamic Party claims using US-made anti-tank missile in northwest Syria

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Photo showing the firing of a US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile

The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al Qaeda-linked Uighur jihadist group, has posted a photo to social media claiming its fighters recently used at least one US-made TOW anti-tank missile against Syrian regime forces in northwestern Syria. This photo is part of a wider release from the strategic Al Ghab plain in northern Hama province.

The photo above was released on one of the TIP’s official Twitter accounts with an English caption saying, “The Turkistani mujahideen brothers deliver a strong response to the Nusayri [derogatory term referring to the Assad regime] army by the Russians.” However, it is unclear if the jihadist group is actually using the American-made missile. It is entirely possible that a TOW-supplied rebel group belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was operating alongside the TIP at the time of the photo. While many jihadist groups, including al Qaeda’s official branch in the country, operate in the Al Ghab plain, several FSA groups operate alongside these forces against the Assad regime and its allies.

If the missile was operated by an FSA group, this would offer more evidence that TOW-supplied rebel groups continue to support jihadist operations in the country.

[For more on the TIP in the Al Ghab plain, see Threat Matrix reports, Turkistan Islamic Party shows US-made machine gun, captured droneTurkistan Islamic Party shows fighters on frontlines in northwestern Syria, and Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria takes part in battle for the Al Ghab plain.]

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • Is it possible that the United States is the top supplier of weapons to Islamic State? (By capturing from US-supplied forces in Iraq and Syria?) Has anyone done research on this?

  • Confused says:

    US Made TOWs in Jihadist hands are now destroying US Humvees driven by Iranian backed Shia Militias…

    Ah screw it. “Hands everyone a beer.”

    I need a drink at this asininity.

  • Arjuna says:

    Good report. As if more evidence of the failure of America’s Syrian Arm Anyone Opposed To Assad non-strategy was needed. Those friendly moderates (“Turkistani mujahideen brothers”) also used Made In the USA TOWs to shoot and kill Russian medics in a SAR helicopter and Russian journalists in a TV-marked SUV. Nice allies.
    If American paratroopers in Ukraine and handing out of TOWs like candy doesn’t start a world war, we’re hard at work trying to start one with reckless overflights of China over some sandbars in their backyard.
    Meanwhile Christians are being slaughtered and genocide is being practiced on non-Muslims by the worst band of zealots since the Nazis.
    Merry Christmas from your friends in Hawaii!

  • Arjuna says:

    Not just the Turkmen we’re supplying but Nusra too if you believe this:
    http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941002001204
    Which defense stocks are soaring as we can’t make missiles fast enough? GDP boost from war and floods… All profits should be given to the poor.

  • D Coleman says:

    The US has supplied millions of dollars worth of weapons to a wide variety of groups in Syria and northern Iraq over the last decade. Is it any surprise that some of these weapons have fallen into the hands of people that are now attacking US interests? It is a time honoured concept described by Donald Rumsfeld as blowback.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis