According to the report, the Pentagon is working with various contractors and sub-contractors in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet states to implement an arms and ammunition supply program that will cost US $2.2 billion.
The program is separate from the now-defunct Syrian Train and Equip program. It was reportedly started in September 2015 and the first delivery arrived in October 2015. Since then, the Pentagon has spent more than $700 million funding its operations. The Department of Defense has also budgeted an additional $584 million for the program for 2017 and 2018, and over $900 million has been contracted to be spent by 2022.
According to the investigation, the Pentagon is buying the munitions through two channels: the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Picatinny Arsenal (a US Army weapons facility in New Jersey). The supplies are transported by sea and air from Europe to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait and then distributed to US allied rebel forces in northern and southern Syria. This equipment reportedly includes firearms, mortars, AK-47 rifles, heavy machine guns, RPGs and various types of ammunition.
It should be noted that in providing Syrian rebels with weapons, the Pentagon has used “unusual and misleading documentation” that exploits a “loophole” in the mechanism aimed at preventing diversion of arms to terrorists or war criminals.
Under the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, exporters must take action to prevent weapons supplies from being diverted and used to commit crimes. For this purpose, the Pentagon must provide a valid end-user certificate to guarantee the weapons’ final destination.
But a certificate issued under the Syria program and seen by reporters does not mention Syria as the final destination. According to experts, such practices pose a danger to the global arms control mechanism.