US weapons wound up in hands of ISIL terrorists: Study
Sophisticated weapons the US and Saudi Arabia secretly provided to so-called moderate militants fighting the Syrian government quickly fell into the hands of the Daesh terrorist group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, according to a new study.
The possession of these arms by Daesh remains a threat to the US-led coalition forces still operating in Syria and Iraq, according to the study released Thursday by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a UK-based organization that monitors the movement of conventional weapons.
The weapons included anti-tank rockets purchased by the US military that ended up in possession of ISIL within two months of leaving the factory, according to the study, which was funded by the European Union and German government.
Efforts by the US and other countries to supply weapons to militant groups “have significantly augmented the quantity and quality of weapons available to (ISIL) forces,” the report concluded.
The study examined 40,000 weapons and other items recovered from Daesh, during the past three years.
CAR researchers were unable to determine whether Daesh captured the weapons on the war zone or whether the militants sold or gave the arms to the terror group.
The report cites an ISIL propaganda video showing the terror group’s fighters with weapons captured last year from the so-called New Syrian Army, a coalition of militant groups battling the government forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The White House ended a secretive CIA operation begun by the administration of then President Barack Obama in 2013 to arm anti-Assad militants.
The covert program arming anti-Assad militants is distinct from the Pentagon’s publicly acknowledged operation to arm the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces fighting ISIL, but not Assad.
Saudi Arabia, which like the US strongly opposes the Syrian government, also supplies weapons to militant groups.
The new study raises questions about other sources for weapons.
The report said most of the weapons secretly sent to militants in Syria were purchased by the United States and Saudi Arabia from arms manufactured in Eastern Europe. It said the way the US government purchased the weapons raised troubling concerns about controlling arms sales.
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.