The Southern Command of the United States’ armed forces allegedly said Colombia’s largest rebel group, FARC, has surface-to-air missiles with the capacity of downing military aircraft.
Colombia’s largest newspaper El Tiempo reported that the commander of the US Southern Command, general John Kelley, said that the FARC had acquired the portable surface-to-air missiles with funds made from illicit activities.
“The hundreds of millions of dollars the FARC makes from drug trafficking allows them to buy surface-to-air missiles and finance the construction of drug submarines,” the general allegedly said in a document presented to the United States House of Representatives.
According to radio station Caracol, the missiles could tip the balance in favor of the rebels, as air strikes from the Colombian air force has been a headache for the FARC for decades.
However, on Wednesday Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon denied the FARC had access to surface-to-air missiles and said the authorities had only seized “useless” anti-air weapons from the rebels.
In December 2012, Colombian TV station RCN broadcast images purportedly showing a FARC rebel in the southwestern Cauca department trying to shoot down an aircraft with a Russian surface-to-air missile known by the NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail.
The SA-7, known in its country of origin Russia as the 9K32 “Strela-2”, first went into production in 1968. The missile has short-range anti-aircraft capability and has been used in numerous armed conflicts worldwide.
- Ministerio de Defensa niega que las Farc tengan misiles tierra-aire (W Radio)
- Misiles tierra-aire de las Farc preocupan a EE.UU. (W Radio)
- Misiles tierra-aire de las Farc preocupa a EE. UU. (El Tiempo)
- Misiles Antiaéreos en Poder de las FARC. MANPAD SA-7 Strela (RCN TV)
- Comando Sur de EE.UU. dice que Farc posee misiles aire tierra (Caracol Radio)