Weapons supplied by the United States and Saudi Arabia to opposition fighters often fell into the hands of ISIL, significantly enhancing the “quantity and quality” of the group’s armaments, a new report alleges.
The number of weapons goes “far beyond those that would have been available through battle capture alone”, according to the study by arms-monitoring group Conflict Armament Research (CAR) published on Thursday.
It analysed more than 40,000 items found on the battlefield including weapons, ammunition, and materials used to make improvised explosive devices. Some were acquired by ISIL through shifting alliances within the Syrian opposition.
The research said most weapons were looted from the Iraqi and Syrian armies, however, some were originally supplied by other nations involved in the conflict to Syrian opposition groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad.
“Iraq and Syria have seen IS forces use large numbers of weapons, supplied by states such as Saudi Arabia and the United States, against the various international anti-IS coalitions that the two states support,” said CAR.
“Evidence collected by CAR indicates that the United States has repeatedly diverted EU-manufactured weapons and ammunition to opposition forces in the Syrian conflict. IS forces rapidly gained custody of significant quantities of this materiel,” it said.