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Syrian rebels turn to Mideast neighbors for arms amid reported delay in US help

Syria's rebel forces are still making do with hand-me-down weapons that have been stolen or smuggled into the country -- as the U.S. and its allies are slow to deliver on promises to arm the opposition. 

But as Washington weighs what U.S. involvement will mean, Syria's neighbors are coming to the rebels' defense, re-stocking weapons and sending in supplies. 

Leaders of rebel groups in Syria say they've gotten their largest shipment of weapons from backers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have stepped up to help. 

According to a report in The Guardian, several hundred tons of ammunition and weapons were allowed across the Turkish border in August -- making it the largest re-supply of weapons to rebel fighters since earlier this year. Weapons include anti-aircraft missiles and several dozen anti-tank rockets. 

Most recently, a cache of weapons bought from Croatia by Saudi Arabia was smuggled into Syria from Jordan. The infusion of weapons to southern Syria has helped level the field in an area where demoralized soldiers were falling to Assad's army. 

Weapons from the former Yugoslavia were also seen in the hands of rebel groups fighting in the southern province of Daraa. Those weapons were reportedly financed by Saudi Arabia, according to multiple international media sources. 

Rebels have also been photographed standing next to Russian and Chinese-made weapons they reportedly confiscated from government soldiers. They've also been photographed with Chinese-made shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles known as Manpads. 

There has been no indication that China or Russia is aiding the rebels. Instead, the pictures of anti-Assad forces reinforce the idea that the weapons were either stolen or bought off of Assad's soldiers. 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that U.S. weapons still have not reached opposition forces. Despite the delays, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified on Tuesday, though, that Obama did approve giving lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. 

In June, Gen. Salim Idris, a top rebel commander backed by the West, sent a detailed request to the U.S., France and Britain that contained a wish-list of weapons needed to help fend off Assad's forces. 

The list included 200 Russian-made Konkurs antitank missiles and 100 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons known as Manpads, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Since the early days of the war, the war chest for anti-Assad fighters has grown considerably to include anti-tank, anti-aircraft, guided and unguided mortars. But it's still not enough firepower to beat back Assad's well-funded army.  

In contrast, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's army has regularly received infusions of cash, weapons and manpower from Iran, Russia and the terrorist group Hezbollah.