Sunday, 19 November 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

As SyrianAir continues its operations out of the war-thorn country of Syria, the airline's venerable Boeing 747SP aircraft have been notable absentees on the few remaining routes and destinations SyrianAir continues to serve. While the airline had originally operated two Boeing 747SPs (a shorter variant of the Boeing 747-100 designed for ultra-long ranges) delivered in 1976, both aircraft were effectively grounded in 2008 as U.S. sanctions prevented the aircraft from receiving their extensive D-checks, forcing SyrianAir to retire the Boeing 747SP after 32 years of service.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

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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 been accompanied by an unprecedented level of ingenuity, adaption and brutality on the battlefields it engages in across Syria, Iraq and abroad. Exploiting the lack of security after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 and making smart use of the power vacuum in Syria it effectively hijacked the revolution's original goals. The Islamic State would quickly present itself as a threat like no other – not only to Syria and Iraq, but to the entire world.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

SyrianAir can look back on a turbulent six years of operations serving a country thorn apart by Civil War. Heavily impacted by the implementation of sanctions against Syria in 2012, preventing the airline from buying new aircraft and forcing it to cease its flights to countries in the European Union, SyrianAir (officially known as Syrian Airlines) has had to drastically scale back its operations. This marked the start of a slow degradation process that would see SyrianAir retiring ever more aircraft as spare parts became increasingly difficult to acquire.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

After the first delivery of T-62Ms and BMP-1s to the Syrian Arab Army earlier this year, new imagery coming out of Syria has now revealed that more types of armoured fighting vehicles have recently been sent to the country onboard Russia's 'Syria Express'. These new deliveries come as government forces are currently making major gains in Eastern Homs against the fighters of Islamic State, and the new vehicles will likely be deployed here to bring the fight back to the Islamic State once and for all.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Libya's aerial refuelling programme has only been rarely reported on since its inception in the late eighties, and suffered from a series of setbacks that ultimately led to the abandonment of the programme. Nonetheless, this ambitious project has definitely left its traces within the Libyan Air Force, and aircraft once playing a key role in the in-flight refuelling programme are still flying amidst the increasingly deteriorating security situation inside the country today.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Sudan is arguably one of the most interesting countries when it comes to the variation of military equipment in use with its army, owing to its diverse range of suppliers ever since the country's independence from Great Britain in 1956. Originally trained and equipped by Egyptians and the British, Sudan then began receiving large shipments of Soviet military equipment, followed by Chinese deliveries of arms. In recent years, Sudan has bought large numbers of weaponry from nations such as Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, which along with the Chinese and Iranians are now the lead suppliers of weaponry in Sudan.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

The battle for Mosul has entered its seventh month of fierce fighting for the largest city in the hands of the Islamic State, with the most difficult fight for Mosul's Old City still to be fought. Facing a much stronger opponent with a large number of armoured fighting vehicles, special forces and air support, the Islamic State employs tactics that have become so characteristic for this organisation in its fight against Iraqi forces, including the large-scale use of VBIEDs in the narrow streets of the city.

Monday, 27 March 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with MENA_Conflict

Just over a year after capturing Deir ez-Zor's Ayyash weapon depot in the largest arms haul of the Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State has once again got its hands on massive quantities of ammunition captured from a storage depot in Deir ez-Zor. This arms haul joins the list of other major instances where vast amounts of weaponry and munitions traded owners such as the capture of the aforementioned Ayyash weapon depot, Regiment 121, Brigade 93 and the Mahin arms depot, all but the last of which were at the hands of the Islamic State. Each of these depots provided its capturers with a wide array of weaponry, vehicles and ammunition that could immediately be used against their former owners, a major blow to other factions fighting for control over Syria.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Cuba is well known for its former leader Fidel Castro, communism and its renowned cigars, exporting the latter two to numerous countries throughout the world. In contrast, its role as an arms exporter remains much more elusive. While Cuba has begun converting and manufacturing a wide range of arms-related equipment in recent years, this industry has so far mostly been serving the needs of Cuba's own Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR). The presence of Cuban 'David' infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) in service with the Forças Armadas Angolanas is thus highly notable.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

The rise of the Islamic State from an militant group operating in Iraq to a self-proclaimed caliphate controlling large swaths of land in Iraq, Syria and further abroad has had a significant effect on the course of the Syrian Civil War, effectively hijacking the revolution's original goals and drastically changing the scope of warfare in Syria. At the forefront of this change is the Islamic State's ability to quickly adapt to the various situations that can be encountered on the battlefield, allowing it to become one of the most sophisticated designated terrorist groups to date.

Monday, 6 March 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Jaish al-Islam has once again secured its place in the spotlight after firing at least two Iranian Zelzal-2 artillery rockets against regime positions in Syria on the 6th of March 2017. Jaish al-Islam had previously deployed one of its Zelzal-2s in retaliation for the continued airstrikes on Jaish al-Islam held Eastern Ghouta on the 31th of August 2015, and although the target and results of the underreported attack remain unknown, the strike confirmed that the threat of a non-state party firing off long-range rockets was very real. A video of the March 2017 launches can be seen here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

With the Syrian Ministry of Defense finally having embraced 21st century media technology, it now regularly uploads high-definition images on both its official website and twitter account. Despite this 'giant' leap forward, the Syrian MoD still only communicates to the outside world in Arabic, thereby excluding a large audience that could otherwise be interested in reading or viewing the MoD's statements on ongoing battles in the Syrian theatre. Nonetheless, the images published provide for a perfect opportunity for another 'Photo Report'.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), is a breakaway state in Eastern Europe that has remained in the shadows ever since its self-proclaimed independence as a Soviet republic in 1990 and subsequent breakaway from Moldova in 1992. Currently only recognized by Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which themselves are also unrecognised republics, Transnistria is situated in between the Ukraine and Moldova. Nonetheless, Transnistria functions as a de-facto state with its own army, air arm and even its own arms industry.

Friday, 17 February 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

Following several rumours concerning the delivery of new armoured fighting vehicles to the Syrian Arab Army, images coming out of the war-torn country have now confirmed such a delivery did indeed take place in the form of T-62M tanks and BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs). These newly delivered vehicles are destined for the Syrian Arab Army's 5th Corps, which is currently engaged in heavy combat with the Islamic State in between T4 airbase and Tadmur. Indeed, images and videos covering the fighting that currently takes place here have already confirmed the vehicles are doing their part in bringing the fight back to the Islamic State.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

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By Stijn Mitzer

The ancient city of Palmyra has become a symbol in the world's fight against the Islamic State. It represents one of the few places where every (non-IS) party agrees on the ultimate fate of the city and its archaeological ruins, this in sharp contrast to other cities and locations elsewhere in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Palmyra holds a special place in the hearts of many, and preserving this symbol of civilisation is not only in the interest of Syrians, but for mankind in general. Despite its cultural significance, the ancient ruins are a mere collection of bricks in the face of civilian casualties during the course of the Civil War, which are thought to range in the hunderds of thousands. The regime's decision to prioritise the ruins of Palmyra (Tadmur) over strategic targets in March 2016 would ultimately result in failure, losing control over Tadmur for the second time on the 11th of December 2016.