A new provision contained in the 2017 NDAA conference report could allow the US to support Syrian rebels with man-portable air defense systems, also known as MANPADS. Supply of the weapons has proven controversial in the past due to concerns that terrorist groups like ISIS or others friendly to al-Qaeda could acquire them. Due to the weapons’ relatively small size, and the instability of the situation in Syria, the shoulder fired armaments could easily be smuggled to US enemies.

Use of the American weapons by anti-Assad rebels against Russian aircraft could also cause serious tension between the US and Russia, who have been at odds over the civil war in Syria.

Russia fears US anti-aircraft missiles could be used against its planes over Syria

“This US decision directly threatens the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces, other Russian military personnel and the Russian Embassy in Syria, which has been shelled more than once. This is why we view this as a hostile decision,” said Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in a statement on Tuesday.

While past administrations have opposed Putin’s actions in Syria and the Ukraine, President-elect Donald trump has praised the leader and dismissed accusations of Russian manipulation of US elections, opening the door for warmer future diplomatic relations. The Russian spokeswoman went on to suggest that the easing of restrictions on US weapons flow to Syria, passed on December 23rd by the current administration, was part of a political game to hamper the incoming Trump administration and escalate tension between the two countries.

Russian official accuses Obama of straining US-Russian relations as part of political maneuver

“Overall, it appears that the Authorization Act has been adopted by the outgoing Obama administration, which is hastily introducing new sanctions against Russia, to create problems for the incoming Trump administration and complicate its relations on the international stage, as well as to force it to adopt an anti-Russia policy,” said Zakharova.

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Both Republicans and Democrats have voiced opposition to the transfer of portable missiles to Syrian rebels on grounds that they carry with them the potential for great destruction in the region. While the weapons are only allotted for vetted rebels and multiple senate committees must approve of the action, many in Washington feel that they are an unnecessary danger.