Screen capture from a video allegedly showing a militant in
Terrorist groups in
It cites the risk that the missiles could be smuggled out of
The report was released just hours after the
The agency said armed extremists in
The new report estimated that several hundred anti-aircraft missile systems are already in rebel arsenals. Mostly Russian and Chinese in origin, the weapons have been seized by terrorist groups from government forces and smuggled in from nations sympathetic to the insurgents, the report said.
The most immediate danger is that anti-aircraft weapons, especially newer and sophisticated models, could easily be diverted to extremist groups operating outside
"In the hands of trained terrorists with global reach, even a few missiles pose a potentially catastrophic threat to commercial aviation," wrote
The ISIS terrorist group that has overrun much of northern and western
Most American and other commercial airlines already have halted flights over and into
"Opposition groups have successfully shot down Syrian military aircraft using these anti-aircraft weapon systems during the course of the conflict," the
A Syrian terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter talks on a walkie-talkie. (File photo)
The destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last month was a clear signal that civilian aircraft could be exposed to anti-aircraft missiles at both high and low altitudes, Schroeder said. "The shoot-down on Flight MH15 underscores the important of reining in the black market trade in all anti-aircraft missiles," he said.
The Malaysian jet was struck at 33,000 feet, well beyond the range of portable anti-aircraft missiles, killing all 298 people on board. US officials said the Boeing 777 jet was struck by a long-range surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists inside eastern
Unlike larger vehicle-mounted systems, compact shoulder-fired missiles and tube launchers are difficult to track once outside of government control, and easy to dismantle and hide.
Schroeder said eight different MANPADS models have turned up in
"Once these weapons are out of government control, they could end up anywhere," Schroeder said.
The report names
US officials have estimated the Syrian government had amassed as many as 20,000 MANPADS units before the civil war erupted in 2011.
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