U.S. buys missiles for Syrian rebels from Putin’s ally Lukashenka – Buzzfeed

The U.S. violated its own policy and gave ‘little-known’ private company called Purple Shovel LLC. Purple Shovel approval to acquire millions of dollars’ worth of high-tech missiles for the rebels from Belarus, a ‘dictatorship that is under sanctions by the European Union’, buzzfeed.com reports.

“Belarus, which has supplied weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and is accused of human rights violations, is normally off-limits to U.S. arms dealers. But the U.S. military and State Department agreed to make an exception, allowing 700 powerful anti-tank missiles to be purchased, with U.S. taxpayer funds, for the rebels,” the investigation conducted by Buzzfeed’s Aram Roston says.

According to the investigation data, Purple Shovel was contracted to acquire 700 Russian-designed Konkurs missiles for the Syria mission.

“But there was a problem: finding them on the worldwide arms market. Bulgaria, the source for most of the weapons for the Syria operation, didn’t have any. Ukraine is known to have some stored away but won’t sell because it is in a shooting war with Russian-backed rebels. A country that has plenty is Belarus. But that country, often called “Europe’s last dictatorship,” is usually considered off-limits for arms dealers who work with the United States. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has ruled with an iron fist for 21 years, and he has been accused of repeatedly stealing elections and of “disappearing” political opponents,” Aram Roston stresses.

Belarus is on a special “International Traffic in Arms Regulations” list published by the U.S. State Department, of countries with bans or special restrictions. The State Department has to license almost every deal involving US companies, and arms dealers say they are almost always prohibited from buying weapons from Belarus, Buzzfeed stresses.

The U.S. news resource also recalls that, along with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, Belarus was historically a major seller of arms to the Assad regime from 2006 to 2010, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms sales.

www.belsat.eu/en/, via Buzzfeed

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