The arsenal of terror: Detailed report reveals the range of machine guns, armoured vehicles and explosives used by ISIS fanatics… and how stolen NATO assault rifles are reserved for ‘elite’ troops
- New report reveals vast array of weapons used by Islamic State militants
- ISIS stole large amounts of weapons from Iraqi Army early in the conflict
- Anti-tank and aircraft rockets, and crude IEDs found in ruins of Kobane
- Other weapons originated in Africa, eastern Europe, Russia and the U.S.
The scope of Islamic State’s military capabilities have been laid bare in a new report which reveals the vast range of weaponry used by the militants in the four-month battle for Kobane.
Anti-tank rockets, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, Western assault rifles and crude IED ‘daisy chains’ have all been discovered in the city’s ruins after their defeat to Kurdish forces.
The study shows how ISIS commandeered vast swathes of advanced weaponry from Iraqi troops when it overran cities such as Mosul during the conflict’s early stages, but it is also fighting with ammunition manufactured abroad as recently as four months ago.
The origin of the weapons is remarkable in its scope – investigators from Conflict Armament Research found quantities of Chinese 5.56mm rifles and ammunition, two Belgian rifles, as well as Russian, eastern European and U.S. guns.
James Bevan, executive director of Conflict Armament Research, told MailOnline: ‘They’re not desperate for weapons and essentially it is indicative of many rebellions, in that they’ve sustained their operations, sometimes over long periods of time, through battlefield capture of weapons or local supplies.
‘They captured an awful lot of weapons from the Iraqi Army at the beginning.’
However, he said this would not remain the case indefinitely.
‘They have also been losing a lot of equipment in combat and they lost a lot of armored vehicles so they must be reaching a point where their current supplies and ammunition will run out.’
In several instances, weapons were found to have travelled from Sudan, while another source was the Syrian opposition groups who are in turn supplied by governments.
Mr Bevan said investigators were surprised to discover the weapons had travelled so far after being manufactured only recently.
‘Sudan is a major supplier of weapons and ammunition to rebel forces in the [Africa] region so we’ve got a pretty good handle on what they’re supplying.
‘[But] we didn’t realise the reach was so great that we’d find weapons manufactured in 2014 as far away as Syria.’
A set of 105mm improvised rockets sit neatly stacked against a wall after ISIS fled the city of Kobane
The origin of two Belgian FN FAL rifles – produced in 1979 and 1980 – left behind in the ruined city of Kobani remains a mystery. There is no record of them in Iraqi national inventories.
A vast array of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also discovered, including what are known as daisy chains – a string of IEDs linked together to explode across a wide area.
Other crude devices found by investigators were gas canisters filled with homemade explosives, scrap metal and ball bearings which are then welded to rockets, enabling them to be fired over long distances.
Although such IEDs are considered wildly innaccurate, their potential to main and kill is notorious.
In an indication of the close links between ISIS and groups fighting President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, it was noted Syrian opposition groups have been using similar devices since 2013.
A Chinese CQ 5.56mm rifle found in Kobane after the ISIS defeat. The serial numbers of the weapons were filed off in an identical fashion to guns found in Sudan in 2013
It was not clear whether China, Sudan, or an intermediary was responsible for supplying the Chinese weapons (pictured) to parties to the Syria conflict
Mr Bevan warned that weapons once were supplied to Turkey or Syria, the suppliers had ‘very little control over what groups those weapons are supplied to,’ and suggested this would be a bigger source of weaponry for ISIS once stocks captured from the Iraqi government dwindled further.
He said: ‘The weapons and ammunition are still coming into the region, whether that’s to support Kurdish forces or Syrian opposition forces.’
Three U.S. manufactured armoured vehicles were also discovered that had been destroyed by Kurdish forces during the battle and left abandoned. They had been previously captured from Iraqi forces.
Anti tank weapons used by the militants include European-manufactured MILAN guided weapon systems, both of which the Syrian and Iraqi armed forces have in stock, and Bulgarian and Russian rocket launchers.
Very few U.S. weapons were found – this was likely due to NATO arms requiring a different and scarcer type of ammunition.
‘What it seems is that IS commanders are quite often carrying these and they’re more a prestige weapon – symbolically, they symbolise a defeat of an enemy.’
This is the gas cylinder from a Russian anti-tank missile system which ISIS militants were using on Kurdish forces
A Bulgarian RPG-22 launcher (pictured), manufactured in 1992, was also found in the city