IS cells in northeast Syria centralised weapon shipments

Despite losing control of various parts of Syria’s northeast, notorious terror group ISIS continues to gain access to a hefty centralised weapons supply, a report by the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found and published on January 29. 

The Islamic extremist organisation however continues to see some form of prominence in Syria’s Idlib Province. 

A UK-based organisation founded in 2011, CAR is an investigative group tracking the supplies of weaponry, ammunition and military related material in conflict-ridden areas and recently analysed 270 weapons and 13,000 pieces of ammunition seized by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of rebel and militias groups based in the northeast and established shortly after the breakout of the civil war, in various ISIS cells raids in 2021 and 2022. 

The report said, “During the documentation of the materiel recovered in the inghimasi (suicide bombing equipment) seizures, CAR investigators noticed three unexpected commonalities among the weapons. These shared characteristics, are particularly striking when compared to the data CAR has been collecting in north-east Syria since 2020 and in relation to diverted weapons around the world.  

“Investigators also observed instances in which weapons recovered in one seizure contained internal components belonging to a weapon found in a different seizure  The first commonality is the presence of 18 Type 68 7.62 × 39 mm assault rifles that were manufactured in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).  

“These rifles are rarely observed in CAR’s global operations, which makes their strong presence in all three seizures noteworthy. They make up 12 per cent of the weapons documented in the Abu Khashab seizure, 5 per cent in the Sina’a prison seizure, and 9 per cent of the Qayrawan seizure. These distinctive weapons account for one in ten of all the assault rifles recovered from the three inghimasi attacks.” 

READ: Key ISIS official captured in Northern Syria

Following the recent drone strikes carried out by Iraqi militants at the Jordan-Syria border, a US general warned that IS were getting stronger and may seek to capitalise from discontent and tensions on a regional basis. 

Major General Joel Vowell noted that the attack, which killed three US troops, has forced “counter-ISIS” troops in the region to prioritise defence. 

Vowell said, “All that focus has allowed, at the tactical level, Daesh cells to start doing more things. We have seen an uptick in attacks in Syria and Iraq in the last 60 days in particular.” 

Following the strikes on US troops, President Biden said that the United States would retaliate “at a time and manner of our choosing”. 

 Conflict Armament Research/ The Times 

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