Much was made of the US-made weapons ISIS took when it swept into the major Iraqi city of Mosul. Yet the reports today suggest their equipment gains were far greater than previously reported.
The latest reports say ISIS captured 52 M198 howitzers, capable of firing 155 mm shells 20 miles with precision GPS aiming mechanisms. Though experts expressed doubts over whether ISIS could quickly figure out how to use the GPS systems, the artillery could still do massive damage to Iraqi cities near their territory.
ISIS has some possessions in the Anbar Province that put them on the outskirts of being able to take shots into Baghdad, particularly into the western area near the international airport. Other holdings further south could allow them to easily shell Karbala, a Shi’ite holy city.
The shelling could hugely escalate the violence in Iraq, as well as sectarian tensions, though ISIS may be reluctant to put such pricey weapons on the front lines and risk getting them destroyed. ISIS also captured 1,500 armored Humvees in the fall of Mosul, and has been making good use of them in both Iraq and Syria.