CIA spies have smuggled up to 14 Stinger missiles into Syria so rebels can defend themselves from air strikes.
The ground-to-air weapons have been delivered across the Turkish border to the Free Syrian Army and were partly paid for by Saudi Arabia, a security source claimed.
President Bashar al-Assad’s MIG-23 warplanes and helicopter gunships have killed more than 1,000 people.
The source said: “The West and the rest of the Middle East is not going to be able to secure a no-fly zone above Syria any time soon so the only way to stop the carnage is to take on Assad’s air force from the ground.
“Knowing that Stingers are in the hands of the opposition forces will hopefully mean Assad’s air power will be much diminished but this will be a slow process.”
Activists say more than 20,000 people have died in the 17 month civil war and the daily death toll has risen past 500 this week.