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 drone, Turkistan Islamic Party shows fighters on frontlines in northwestern Syria, and Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria takes part in battle for the Al Ghab plain.]