Saturday, 16 April 2016

Islamic State Captures Masses Of Iranian-Supplied Weaponry Near Khanasir

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.

The strategic importance of the town must not have gone unnoticed to Islamic State, which launched an offensive with the aim of capturing Khanasir in February 2016. The amount of weaponry captured during the first offensive was substantial, consisting of several tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and small arms. The Islamic State's second assault on the city and its surroundings appears to have trumped even these earlier gains, as masses of Iranian-supplied small arms and munitions fell in the hands of the fighters of the Islamic State.

While government forces succeeded in taking back the town in late February, the Islamic State's losses appear to have been relatively low and the attention the offensive received made it a propaganda victory if not a strategic one. After quickly recapturing the town, the new garrison left to defend the town and its surroundings did not only consist of local SyAA and National Defence Force (NDF) fighters, but also of Iraqi Shiite militias and possibly even Iranian soldiers.

This is an approximate guess of the captured weapons and ammunition featured in the photo report. The content of at 89 least crates could not be identified, but are likely to be artillery shells.


- 19,330 rounds of 7.62x39 and 7.62x54R ammunition.
- 430 rounds of 12.7x99 ammunition.
- 90 rounds of 12.7x108 ammunition.
- 2634 rounds of 23mm ammunition.
- 116 rounds of 60mm ammunition.
- 30 rounds of 106mm ammunition.
- 3 rounds of 107mm ammunition.
- 2 rounds of 120mm ammunition.
- 30 rounds of 122mm MRL ammunition.
- 7 rounds of 3BK14 125mm ammunition.
- 1 round of 3BM-44 125mm ammunition.
- 45 rounds of artillery ammunition.
- 43 charges for artillery rounds.
- 98 Nader rocket-propelled grenades.
- 7 RPG boosters.
- 39 grenades.


- 65 7.62mm AK(M)-47s (KL).
- 5 7.62mm PKMs.
- 2 7.62mm SVD Dragunov.
- 1 7.62mm PSL.
- 1 12.7mm HS.50 (AM.50).
- 1 12.7mm DShK.
- 1 14.5mm KPV.
- 8 RPG-7s.
- 2 Type-69s.
- 1 60mm mortar.
- 1 81mm mortar.
- 1 73mm SPG-9
- 1 130mm M-46 field gun.
- 2 122mm D-74 field gun.
- 1 152mm D-20 howitzer.
- 1 M40 106mm RCL.


- 1 T-72M1 (equipped with the Sarab-1).
- 1 BMP-1
- 1 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika.
- 1 Safir.
- 1 GAZ-3308.
- 1 Tatra 148.
- 1 Tatra 815.
- 1 truck.
- 6 technicals.
- 3 bulldozers.
- 2 motorcycles.

Interestingly, the T-72M1 encountered during the offensive is the first Sarab-1 equipped vehicle to have been captured by forces opposing the regime. Covered by the means of tarp on this T-72M1, the Sarab-1 likely makes uses of infrared lamps to confuse the operators of anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems and has been deployed on a range of vehicles and checkpoints. Also captured was a single BMP-1.

Also encountered were five artillery pieces, making up most of heavy armament captured during this offensive. One 122mm Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer, one 130mm M-46 field gun, two 122mm D-74 field guns and one 152mm D-20 howitzer fell in the hands of the fighters of the Islamic State. Both the D-20 and D-74 were delivered by Russia to Syria in the past year, and were not present in the arsenals of the SyAA before the start of the Civil War.

Some of the technicals to have fallen in the hands of the Islamic State, including the infamous Iranian designed and produced Safir 4x4, here seen armed with a M40 106mm recoilless rifle (RCL). A CF Moto 800 series and other vehicles can also be seen.

Three trucks, two of Czechoslovak manufacture. The oldest, a Tatra 148, is in the process of being loaded with captured ammuntion. The Tatra 815 and Russian GAZ-3308 represent some of the more modern trucks in service with the SyAA. Three bulldozers, one of which with protective steel plating installed around its wheels, were also captured.

Several AK-47s upgraded with picatinny rails, allowing for the installment of sights and other gadgets, were also encountered. Perhaps not by coincidence, these rifles are almost exclusively seen in the hands of Iraqi Shiite fighters, and likely indicate that several were in fact stationed at the checkpoints.

Almost all of the ammunition was Iranian supplied, and includes both recently produced products and ammunition produced in the seventies. Although no 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL) was pictured, the presence of thirty 122mm rounds indicates a single-barrelled launcher is likely present somewhere. As often seen, crates and products are labeled both in Farsi and English.

Small arms ammunition, much of which of Iranian origin too. Although at least 2634 23mm rounds were captured, no 23mm guns were seen among the spoils, making it likely that the trucks or technicals they were mounted on fled before the arrival of Islamic State fighters.

What appears to be Iranian and (Shiite) Iraqi military gear, left behind by the fighters formerly stationed here. The helmet has an Iranian camouflage design marked ''IR [Iran] Army''. Images released by the Islamic State showed around a dozen fighters fleeing from their checkpoints, undoubtedly also including Shiite fighters and Iranian soldiers.

While it is unlikely the Islamic State will be able to capture huge swats of lands and retain them like they did in previous years, quick and well executed offensives as seen lately in Dmeyr, Northern Aleppo and now Eastern Aleppo will continue to provide the Islamic State with new weaponry, and may delay its inevitable downfall significantly.


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