The new data were collected by a three-year-old, London-based group called Conflict Armament Research, which sends investigators to conflict zones to identify the types and origins of weaponry. Its latest report, financed by the European Union, lists the origins of more than 1,700 cartridges collected in July and August in northern Iraq and northern Syria by investigators working alongside Kurdish forces that had fought IS.
The cartridges they found after four battles were manufactured for machine and submachine guns, rifles, and pistols. One Soviet-manufactured cartridge dated from 1945, a grim testament to the long-lasting impacts of weapons production.
Manufacturers in Russia and the former Soviet Union made a total of 492 of the recovered shells, according to the report. Russia has been a major arms supplier to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose forces also have been battling the Islamic State.
The presence of such weapons in IS’s hands makes clear that its fighters seized substantial stocks not only from Iraqi troops, but from Syrian troops as well. Another 26 of the recovered shells were made in Iran, an ally of Assad’s, and 18 were made in Syria itself, the report states.
The next-biggest country of origin for IS’s weapons was China. Of the cartridges recovered from Islamic State forces 445 came from China.
The third-highest supplier was the United States, with 323 cartridges, the report said. Some of these shells, meant for M16A4 assault rifles, were made at the U.S. Army’s munitions factory in Independence, Missouri, according to the report.