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Iraq ISIS Syria

Acquires anti-aircraft weapons

29 Aug, 2014

ISIS has acquired an arsenal that includes state-of-the-art anti-aircraft guns that can shoot down modern warplanes and poses a significant threat to civilian flights. Prior to the group’s weekend capture of the Taqba airport, it had already seized a large amount of weapons from the Assad regime and fleeing Iraqi forces that includes top-shelf mortars, APCs and even several M1A1 Abrams main battlefield tanks, but its surface-to-air capability was limited to ageing, subpar equipment. However, more recent propaganda photos show militants holding standard-issue carbines and Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47 replicas, a staple of Middle Eastern armed groups for decades, alongside Russian SA-24 Grinch manpads (man-portable air defence system) captured from the airfield. An American diplomat involved in monitoring Islamist groups:

There is a need to assess the air-defence capabilities of ISIS and also the capabilities of President Assad’s forces. But, I would like to stress that no decision has yet been made on whether to extend the operations in Iraq to Syria

The group is known to have Soviet, Polish and Bulgarian  ZU23-2 and ZU23-4 anti-aircraft guns  and American low altitude FIM92 Stinger manpads, and has used GSHK heavy-machine guns against the Assad regime’s attack helicopters to great effect, although they are not much use against high-flying fast jets. These are now thought to be augmented by Chinese FN-6 manpads that can hit targets at 11,000 feet and SA-16 Gimlet manpads, with effective range of 16,000 feet which were supplied in large quantities to the regime.