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 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.