Reports have shown that weapons provided to Syrian rebels by the U.S military have ended up being captured by the Islamic State. The stolen arms include anti-tanks weapons which have only been out of the factory for two months.
The Conflict Armament Research is an organization that tracks arm shipments. They recently did a study funded by the German government and European Union that shows delivery of weapons to rebel groups has increased the quantity and quality of weapon supply to the Islamic State. The study also examined over 40000 recovered weapons over the past three years. They are unable to say whether these weapons were captured by the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the battlefield or if they were sold or handed over by rebel groups.
The report also draws reference to previous instances when ISIS was able to capture arms from the New Syrian Army in 2016 and from Iraqi soldiers in 2014 when they ambushed the soldiers who abandoned their weapons and escaped. The stolen weapons included tanks and artillery from the Iraqi divisions.
They also mention the fact that there may be another source of weapons for ISIS found in the arms sent to rebel groups fighting in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They highlight that the introduction of other weapons in that particular setting is dangerous because there is no control over who will get access to the arms or how they will even be used in the end.
There was a covert CIA program which had been started back in 2013 by the Obama administration. It was ended ended this year by President Trump and the CIA chose not to comment on the report. The program was designed mainly to prevent extremists like ISIS from having an advantage in the ongoing war.
The CIA program is different from the Pentagon’s public weapon supply to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is an alliance between Arabs and Kurds fighting ISIS. The report showed no evidence of SDF weapons reaching any enemy hands and Pentagon comments that they track their arms very closely when they are sent to the Syrian Democratic Forces.
However, most weapons sent from the United States were manufactured in Eastern Europe and paid for overseas through contracts with private companies. This is because most Iraqi and Syrian militants use weapons that aren’t compatible with ammunition and other supplies from the U.S.
The report went on to explain that the purchases being made by the U.S government for arms may cause problems in controlling weapons sales. The U.S and Saudi Arabia could have signed contracts to prevent weapons from being transferred after they were purchased but some arms were still going to Syria.