Thursday, 10 November 2016

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

Exclusive new images featured in one of our articles for NK News Pro have revealed the construction of four 77 metres long corvettes is in an advanced stage, once again showing rearmament of the ill-equipped Korean People's Navy is continuing at an unexpected pace.

Although unfortunately, our full analysis is behind a paywall, an NK News article featuring various experts in the field of North Korean weapon proliferation on the new corvettes is available for free. Alternatively, you could wait for the full analysis in our upcoming books: The Armed Forces of North Korea: on the path of Songun.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

The following images were taken during Syrian Arab Army exercises over the past several years, including the large-scale exercise involving all branches of the Syrian Armed Forces in 2012. This exercise was carried out amid an increasingly deteriorating security situation in Syria, leading to calls from the international world for an intervention similar to the one seen in Libya. In response, the Syrian Armed Forces launched a several day long exercise to show its strenght to the outside world.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Syrian Arab Army's 4th Armoured Division is well known for operating several types of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles upgraded with additional armour throughout the Damascus theatre of operations. Having performed these armour upgrades on a range of armoured fighting and support vehicles, the 4th Armoured Division (4th AD) has expanded its arsenal once more by introducing a one of a kind type of multiple rocket launcher (MRL), popularly known as 'Shams', meaning Sun in Arabic. It's thought its nickname was derived from that of the aesthetically similar Russian TOS-1A 'Solntsepyok, which has been referred to as 'Sun' during its deployment in Syria.

Monday, 31 October 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

Jaish al-Islam has once again deployed one if its 9K33 Osa mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems in an effort to shoot down a Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) helicopter flying over Eastern Ghouta, Damascus on the 26th of June 2016. Although Jaish al-Islam quickly announced it had successfully shot down the helicopter with a single 9M33 missile, the damaged Mi-25 managed to return safely to Damascus International Airport. In the following days, the SyAAF lost several aircraft flying over or near Jaish al-Islam held territory, once again putting the spotlight on Jaish al-Islam's 9K33 Osa.

Monday, 26 September 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Sudanese Air Force has operated several types of combat aircraft acquired from multiple sources since its founding in 1956. While current types such as the MiG-29SEh, Su-25 and Su-24 are well known for their involvement in the Sudanese Civil War and Operation Decisive Storm, older types such as the F-5E and MiG-23MS have been poorly documented while in the Sudanese Air Force ever since their inception in the 1980s.

Monday, 8 August 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Syrian Arab Air Defence Force, once a proud independent service of the Syrian Armed Forces, has suffered tremendously under the five-year long Civil War. While losing dozens of surface-to-air (SAM) and radar sites to the various factions fighting for control over Syria was already a serious blow to its capabilities, Syria's poor financial situation and the transfer of large numbers of personnel from the Syrian Arab Air Defence Force (SyAADF) to the Syrian Arab Army and National Defence Force effectively gave the killing blow to the SyAADF.

Friday, 5 August 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Syrian Arab Navy is without a doubt the least well known branch of the Syrian Armed Forces, largely due to its marginal role in the Syrian Civil War. It however operates an interesting mix of ships most of which already long retired by other naval forces around the world. This photo report shows various Syrian Arab Navy vessels and units that participated in the 2012 exercise. This exercise featured all branches of the Syrian Armed Forces and was aimed at showing the outside world Syria was a force to be reckoned with.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

Although many military enthusiasts and analysts spend hours scrounging social media pages for any interesting images of Syrian Arab Army, Air Force or Navy equipment, it now appears that a wealth of never-before-seen images has been uploaded to the official page of the Syrian Armed Forces. Most of these images, taken over the past six years, have gone completely unnoticed to the general public.

While you can be sure to find plenty of articles with a better balance of visual content to text on this blog, the sheer amount of images, their high quality and the fact that most of the images were never seen before allow for an exception to the rule. We can only hope that more of such photo reports will released in the future.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The regime's recent offensive against the Islamic State aimed at clearing large parts of desert in Syria's Raqqa Governorate of Islamic State presence took a drastic turn when a counter-attack spread chaos and fear among the forces spearheading the offensive. Completely misjudging the impending danger and incapable of properly anticipating the Islamic State's counter-attack, the offensive collapsed and instead of capturing large swaths of territory, the remaining government forces were forced on the defensive, eventually being beaten all the way back to their starting point. The outcome of the offensive came as a surprise to many, not in the least because its exact goals remained unclear for some.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Sudanese Air Force has had a turbulent history ever since its founding in January 1956, the year that the Sudan gained independence from the British. Originally trained and equipped by Egyptians and the British, it acquired aircraft and helicopters from the Soviet Union in the late 1960s, followed by Chinese examples several years later. The Sudanese Air Force (SuAF) then sought to purchase aircraft from France, but ended up acquiring U.S. F-5s and C-130s. In the late 1980s it began receiving military aid in the form of aircraft and helicopters from Libya, followed by the delivery of more Chinese aircraft shortly after, which would continue to deliver aircraft in the last two decades. In more recent years the SuAF's core is made up by aircraft acquired from Belarus, Russia and unsurprisingly, China. This is not all however, as the SuAF also operates or used to operate aircraft sourced from a variety of countries such as Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

While many of our posts have been devoted to the MENA's attempts to locally 'improve' its armour, we have never touched upon on the YPG's DIY armour upgrades. Not that there has been a lack of DIY armour upgrades coming from Northern Syria, but mainly because these local conversions were often so hideous we'd rather continue the trend of leaving other sites to cover them. Nonetheless, there have been a number of interesting projects coming from the YPG-held territory lately, which will be covered in this post.

Monday, 9 May 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

Just six days after the release of the now infamous footage showing fighters of the Islamic State fighting, failing and getting killed while storming Peshmerga positions North of Mosul, the Islamic State made another attempt at taking Peshmerga positions on the 3rd of May 2016 near the Assyrian town of Tesqopa (or Telskuf, Tel Eskof, Tel Asqof or Tel Asqaf in Arabic). The result of this attack received worldwide attention as the resulting battle saw the death of a U.S. serviceman stationed there as part of Navy SEAL unit sent to protect this part of Iraq from further Islamic State attacks.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with MENA_Conflict

Shaer gas field, three words that must strike fear into the head of any National Defence Force (NDF) member without any active assignment in Syria. Being stationed at Shaer guarantees heavy action, frequent Islamic State attacks and unfortunately for many drafted recruits, death. The capture of Shaer by the Islamic State on the 5th of May 2016 is the third time that its fighters gained control of the gas field. Shaer and its surrounding checkpoints were under heavy attack since the first of May, and its defenders were ultimately defeated on the 5th of May. The ghaneema (spoils of war) is said to have amounted to no less than twenty T-55s and T-62s, nine howitzers and field guns, ATGMs and a large number of small arms and associated ammunition.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

A video obtained by Jake Hanrahan and uploaded by VICE News on the 27th of April 2016 shows off spectacular footage taken by the headcam of an Islamic State fighter as he and his comrades fight their way to Peshmerga positions near Naweran while under heavy enemy fire. The attack, which took place North of Mosul, clearly shows the panic and chaos that occur while on the battlefield, a completely different picture from the one presented in the propaganda videos published by the Islamic State's media department, which almost exclusively shows well-trained and motivated fighters of the Islamic State defeating their opponents without any fear or regard to their own safety.

Friday, 15 April 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with MENA_Conflict

An Islamic State offensive near Khanasir, Eastern Aleppo, managed to overrun several checkpoints in the area, resulting in the capture of large amounts of weaponry stocked there. The town of Khanasir, a dusty and deserted place, carries without a doubt the heaviest strategic weight on its shoulders of any town of its kind in Syria. The highway that runs through it is effectively the only access route to embattled Aleppo, and the Islamic State's advances mean that regime forces fighting in the city might soon be completely cut off for some time.

Monday, 28 March 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

After having been captured by the Islamic State just short of a year ago, the city of Tadmur is now back in government hands after a large offensive conducted by units of the Syrian Arab Army (SyAA), Hizbullah, Shiite militias and the Russian Armed Forces cleared the town city and its surroundings from the presence of the Islamic State. While the recapture of the ancient town of Palmyra, home to many well-preserved ruins and archeologica artifacts, will surely make the headlines all over the world, wrestling control over the city of Tadmur itself from the Islamic State is of a much larger significance to the future course of the Syrian War.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

Starting in June 2014, Coalition airstrikes conducted on positions, vehicles and high-ranking members of the Islamic State have taken a heavy toll on the group. These airstrikes combined with increased bombardements conducted by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and the Russian Air Force (RuAF) have made a significant difference during several battles already, most notably in Kobanî. The Islamic State has so far been unable to come up with an answer against the many air forces now threatening them in both Syria and Iraq. Although it has tried to better camouflage its forces in order to prevent them from being spotted and hit, it has so far failed to directly hit any of the aircraft conducting these strikes.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Islamic State's rise to the status of one of the most sophisticated designated terrorist groups ever to exist has led to a myriad of DIY projects as the group attemped to equip its fighters with a semblance of armour and heavy firepower. While most of these projects were destined to remain confined to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, Islamic State forces in Libya managed to assemble an one-off homebred gem that could have come straight out of a Mad Max movie.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with MENA_Conflict

The Syrian Civil War has seen a range of major arms hauls by various parties as weapons depots get overrun and in many cases simply abandoned by retreating forces. The capture of Regiment 121, Brigade 93 and the Mahin arms depot have until now topped the list in terms of arms hauls: Regiment 121 provided the Islamic State with large numbers of field-guns and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) while Brigade 93 saw the capture of at least thirty tanks and around a dozen howitzers. Mahin became notorious for providing its capturers (Jaish al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army) with hundreds of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). For this reason, Mahin was seen as the largest and most important haul of arms during the now five-year long Civil War.

Friday, 11 March 2016

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

Subject to severe sanctions for almost a decade, the proliferation of North Korean conventional armament on the international arms market is an often underreported topic, and many arms deals of the past are completely undocumented. Nonetheless, the traces of these deals still mark many of the world's conflict areas, and every once in a while new footage confirms North Korea's involvement in the international arms trade.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

After the sighting of North Korean Type-73 light machine guns (LMGs) in Iraq, it now appears several examples of this rare firearm have made their way to Syria with the deployment of the Iraqi Shiite militia Kata'ib al-Imam Ali to this country. Kata'ib al-Imam Ali's involvement in Syria has been centered around the regime's offensive in Northern Aleppo in February 2016, aimed at cutting off rebel forces North and North-East of Aleppo.