Thursday 21 May 2015

World War II-Era German Howitzers Continue To See Use In The Syrian Civil War

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans


The Syrian Civil War has presented itself as a perfect opportunity for nations to test their newest weaponry in an unforgiving combat environment, and this large influence of modern weaponry has seen everything from assault rifles to laser-guided bombs and drones undergoing their combat debut. Nonetheless, it has also seen the return of weapons once presumed to have found their final resting place, but which are now brought out to fight once more.

One of these weapons is the German 10.5 cm leFH 18M light field howitzer, which already made a brief appearance earlier in the conflict, but is now seen again in use with Ahrar al-Sham targeting regime-held positions near Ariha, South of Idlib. This ancient piece of weaponry, an improvement of the earlier 10.5 cm leFH 18, mostly saw use on the Eastern Front during the Second World War but was also exported to Syria by Czechoslovakia after the war had ended. Other German weaponry that also reached Syria included the 7.5 cm PaK 40 anti-tank gun, StuG III and Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyers, the 15cm Hummel self-propelled howitzer, the Panzer IV and even large numbers of StG-44 assault rifles.

Indeed, the 10.5 cm artillery piece is not the first weapon originally produced in Nazi Germany to see action in the Syrian Civil War. In Aleppo, August 2012, a batch of some 5000 StG-44 assault rifles and associated ammunition was captured by Liwa al-Tawhid, which went on to use them in limited quantities, even hooking one up to a remote controlled weapon station. [1]

The extremely wide range of weaponry originating from a plethora of sources and dates currently in use in Syria and Iraq make the international conflict one of the most diverse ever, with factions simultaneously using post-2000s and World War II vintage weaponry. A prime example of the fact that when times are dire and munition is rare, every bullet counts.


Special thanks to PFC_Joker.


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