After the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the dramatic downing of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet over Idlib in northwest Syria on Saturday – the first Russian plane downed in Syria since 2015 – a number of analysts have published articles asking the obvious million dollar question: where did al-Qaeda get the portable anti-aircraft missile system used in the attack?
Once such article in Al Monitor speculates on the following: “The three immediate questions that arose from the attack were how the downing was made possible, how the militants acquired the arms and whether there was a bigger-level player behind the attack.”
MANPADS are heat seeking shoulder fired missiles capable of hitting targets flying at anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 feet. Image source: Activist Post
And Al Monitor seems to answer its own question in the following when listing the array of allied groups now operating under the leadership of al-Qaeda (HTS) – among them groups previously “vetted” and approved to receive advanced weaponry by the CIA (specifically the TOW anti-tank missile):