The US military has been using its massive air base in western Germany to arm rebel groups in Syria without Berlin’s permission, according to a report from German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published on Wednesday.
The US military may have violated German law with the alleged weapons transfers as the German government has not approved any weapons transports of this type since the conflict in Syria began in 2011.
The report was published after months of collaborative research among the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
The data was gathered from internal emails from the US military, interviews with whistleblowers, official reports and databanks from the US as well as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
Weapons flown from Ramstein to Turkey
According to the Süddeutsche report, private service providers with the US military have been purchasing weapons and ammunition in eastern Europe since 2013.
The Russian-designed weapons, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, were sent from factories in Serbia, Bosnia, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic and found their way to US command centers in Turkey and Jordan.
Read more: Germany blocks arms sales to Turkey – report
The weapons then made their way into the region either through ports in Romania and Bulgaria — or through the US military air base in Germany, the report said.
The purchases were part of a US Department of Defense program to arm Syrian rebels in northern Syria to fight against the so-called “Islamic State” in Raqqa.
What did Berlin know?
The German government denied any knowledge of arms transfers out of Ramstein, but Süddeutsche argued that Berlin must…