Decades of reckless arms trading and the poorly regulated flow of weapons into Iraq have contributed to the accumulation by the Islamic State in Iran and the Levant (ISIL) of a "vast and varied" arsenal which is being used to commit war crimes on a massive scale in Iraq and Syria, an international rights group said Tuesday.
Amnesty International's report, based on expert analysis of verified videos and images, says most of the group's weapons, ammunition and equipment were looted from the Iraqi army. It says the weapons were manufactured and designed in more than two dozen countries, including Russia, China, the United States and European Union member nations.
ISIL swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014, capturing the second largest city, Mosul, and taking weapons left behind by fleeing Iraqi security forces, including U.S.-supplied arms and military vehicles. The group has also snatched arms from Syrian forces after capturing military bases there.
"The vast and varied weaponry being used by the armed group calling itself Islamic State is a textbook case of how reckless arms trading fuels atrocities on a massive scale," said Amnesty researcher Patrick Wilcken.
"Poor regulation and lack of oversight of the immense arms flows into Iraq going back decades have given IS and other armed groups a bonanza of unprecedented access to firepower," he said, using another acronym for ISIL.
Amnesty International said the range and scope of the group's arsenal reflects decades of "irresponsible" arms transfers to Iraq. It also faulted a lack of oversight following the 2003 invasion, when the United State spent billions of dollars arming and training Iraqi security forces. "Lax controls over military stockpiles and endemic corruption by successive Iraqi governments have added to the problem," it said.
The report documents ISIL’s use of arms and ammunition from at least 25 countries. Among the advanced weaponry in the ISIL arsenal are man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, guided anti-tank missiles and armored fighting vehicles.
Amnesty International called on all states to adopt "a complete embargo" on Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups "implicated in committing war crimes." It said any state transferring arms to Iraq should invest heavily in controls, training and monitoring in order to meet international standards.
The Associated Press