Monday, October 13, 2014

Where ISIS Gets Its Ammunition From

NYT reports:
[A]mmunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role...

Among Conflict Armament Research’s findings were that 323 of the cartridges — nearly 19 percent — were from the United States. These were typically 5.56-millimeter cartridges manufactured from 2005 to 2007 at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri.

The ammunition is the standard cartridge for American M-4 and M-16 rifles, which, along with these classes of rifles, was widely distributed by the United States to Iraqi security forces during the latter years of the occupation.

The sample also included 147 cartridges bearing the distinctive WOLF stamp used by Sporting Supplies International, an American company that sells Russian-manufactured ammunition under its own brand.

The company has provided bulk military ammunition to the United States government for distribution to security forces under its training, raising the possibility that an additional 8.5 percent of the ammunition documented in the Islamic State‘s possession was sent into the region by the United States.

Conflict Armament Research’s investigators also found a small sample of cartridges from Iran in the Islamic State’s possession, including ammunition manufactured as recently as 2013.

Iran has been a sponsor of Iraq’s beleaguered Shiite-led government. Ammunition from Iran, the organization noted, if deliberately transferred to Iraq, would be a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737, which in 2006 prohibited Iran from exporting arms.

On one matter...the data pointed to a familiar puzzle: the large proportion of Chinese ammunition — 445 cartridges or nearly 26 percent of the total.

This was not a “China is a massive supplier” of military-grade ammunition around the world, and the presence of its ammunition is a common feature in modern conflicts.

The Chinese ammunition used by the Islamic State fighters, he said, could have originally been provided to Syrian forces, to Iraqi forces or to any number of other countries that then retransferred Chinese-made cartridges to the region.

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