A new video released by ISIS’s northern Iraq media arm appears to be deliberately emphasizing the group’s heavy use of US-made weapons, showing the group training fighters in the use of American-made M16 assault rifles.
This is a significant shift for the group. As with most jihadist groups worldwide, ISIS has traditionally favored the Russian AK-47, an assault rifle that is available in enormous quantity across the region and indeed the world. In Iraq, however, weapons left behind by US occupation forces and those provided to Iraq’s military are common.
And with Iraqi troops notorious for turning tail and fleeing from ISIS advances, leaving behind weapons and vehicles, ISIS has been building up quite a collection of seized US weaponry. Targeting US-provided vehicles has been a main focus of the US airstrikes in Iraq, even as they rush to provide a new arsenal to the Iraqi military, hoping they’ll be a little more careful with them next time.
Iraq’s military was destroyed during the 2003 US occupation, and a new military was created and armed with US equipment. Though the US hyped the Iraqi military as the pride of the region, heavily armed and trained by US forces, they were quickly routed in several cities by ISIS, leaving ISIS fighters in control of large amounts of equipment.
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