REPORT: Conflict Armament Research: Where Does the Islamic State Get Its Weapons?

 Data were collected by a three-year-old, London-based group called Conflict Armament Research, which sends investigators to conflict zones to identify the types and origins of weaponry. Its latest report, financed by the European Union, lists the origins of more than 1,700 cartridges collected in July and August in northern Iraq and northern Syria by investigators working alongside Kurdish forces that had fought IS.

CAR documented ammunition manufactured in 21 countries, with dates of production ranging from 1945 to 2014. Two production periods, the 1970s–80s and the 2000s, are most represented in the sample and primarily consist of ammunition manufactured in China, Serbia, Soviet Union/ Russian Federation, and the US.



The sample includes ammunition manufactured in 21 countries during a period of nearly 70 years (1945–2014). The variety and age of ammunition used by IS forces indicates a large array of ammunition supply sources, which is attributable to the group having captured materiel during numerous engagements, and against various opponents, across Iraq and Syria. China, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, and the United States (US) are the top three manufacturing states represented in the sample. Ammunition in service with Iraqi and Syrian defence forces is also significant in the sample.

IRANIAN AMMUNITION: IS forces in Iraq and Syria use Iranianmanufactured ammunition dating from 2006 to 2013. If transferred deliberately, the presence of this ammunition outside of Iran violates UN Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006), which prohibits Iran’s export of ammunition.3 Dates of manufacture indicate the production and export of this materiel during the on-going Syrian conflict. US AMMUNITION CAR documented more than 300 US-manufactured cartridges, dating from the 2000s—nearly 20 per cent of the materiel documented in this report. IS forces appear to have acquired a large part of their current arsenal from stocks seized from, or abandoned by, Iraqi defence and security forces. The US gifted much of this materiel to Iraq.

WOLF-BRANDED AMMUNITION: The Russian Federation manufactures 7.62 x 54R mm ammunition, which is marketed by Sporting Supplies International, Inc. (a US company) under the brand name WOLF. IS forces use significant quantities of this ammunition in Iraq and Syria. The US government has distributed WOLF ammunition widely to allied states in the region. RUSSIAN AMMUNITION IS forces in Syria use Russian-manufactured ammunition produced as recently as 2013. The age of this ammunition suggests a short chain of custody—as little as seven months from manufacture in Russia to capture from IS forces in Syria. Syrian defence forces are a plausible source of this ammunition.

SUDANESE AMMUNITION: Sudanese-manufactured ammunition recovered from IS forces illustrates Sudan’s growing role as an ammunition producer and as a supplier of military materiel to parties engaged in armed conflicts, not only in Africa, but also in the Middle East.

Note: The CAR investigation team documented a total of 1,775 cartridges. Of these 45 were either insufficiently marked, or too damaged, to determine the year of manufacture and country of origin. 

CAR recovered most of the 1970s–80s-dated ammunition in the sample from IS forces in Syria. Ammunition from this period is predominantly of Chinese and Soviet manufacture. By contrast, the sample of ammunition recovered in Iraq is mainly US-manufactured and comprises 5.56 x 45 mm cartridges, which are used in US-supplied M16 and M4 assault rifles of the Iraqi defence and security forces.

The entire sample collected in Iraq and Syria includes the following calibres:

• 9 x 19 mm (NATO) – for use in self-loading pistols and sub-machine guns

• 7.62 x 51 mm (NATO) and 7.62 x 54R mm (Warsaw

•12.7 x 108 mm and 14.5 x 114 mm (Warsaw Pact) – each for use in heavy machine guns



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1 Response to REPORT: Conflict Armament Research: Where Does the Islamic State Get Its Weapons?

  1. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.


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