Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Arming ‘Islamic State’ – facts and figures


Some of the key statistics and facts behind Amnesty International's new report, Taking Stock: The arming of Islamic State
A Kurdish gunsmith holds an American made M16A4, previously owned by the Iraqi Army and then by the Islamic State, after the weapon was converted in to an M4 carbine type rifle. © Matt Cetti-Roberts
  • Amnesty International has catalogued more than 100 different types of arms and ammunition originally sourced from at least 25 countries being used in Iraq and Syria by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).
  • IS has used its arsenal to commit a horrific catalogue of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. IS fighters have abducted civilians, including peaceful activists and media workers, and have committed acts of torture and ill-treatment including rape and other sexual and gender-based violence. They have summarily killed captured government soldiers and members of other armed groups, and have also used child soldiers.
  • IS gained most of its arms by seizing stocks from the Iraqi military. Its arms were also acquired through battlefield capture, illicit trade and defections of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
  • After taking control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in June 2014, IS fighters acquired a windfall of internationally manufactured arms from Iraqi stockpiles, including US-manufactured weapons and military vehicles which they paraded on social media.
  • A large proportion of IS’s arms were originally sourced by the Iraqi military from the USA, Russia and former Soviet bloc states, in the 1970s to 1990s. Most of Syria’s arms have come from Russia, the Soviet bloc and Iran.
  • The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) was a seminal moment in the development of the modern global arms market, when at least 34 different countries supplied Iraq with weapons – 28 of those same states were also simultaneously supplying arms to Iran.
  • After a lull in arms transfers to Iraq due to a UN arms embargo in 1990, there was a massive rise in arms imports to Iraq following the US-led military intervention in 2003.
  • More than 30 countries – including all permanent members of the UN Security Council – have supplied the Iraqi army with military equipment over the past decade – a period in which substantial amounts of military equipment has ended up in the hands of insurgent groups, including IS and its precursors.
  • Between 2011 and 2013, the USA signed billions of dollars' worth of arms contracts with the Iraqi government. By 2014 it had delivered more than US$500 million worth of small arms and ammunition. Deliveries continue as a part of the fulfilment of the US Department of Defense’s US$1.6 billion Iraq Train and Equip Fund which includes 43,200 M4 rifles.
  • On 15 August 2014, UN Security Council Resolution 2170 reaffirmed an existing arms embargo on IS and the armed group Al-Nusra Front, an al-Qa’ida affiliate. 

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