Washington: In a new Islamic State video, ISIS fighters are shown flaunting the American M16 rifles that may have been seized by them from Iraqi soldiers or found in weapons caches dropped by the US or what?
A video released by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s media arm in northern Iraq purportedly shows more than a dozen of the terror group’s fighters undergoing weapons training wielding American M16 rifles, according to Flashpoint Intelligence.
“It is noteworthy that the use of American rifles by Islamic State fighters is rare and is only seen in Iraq,” Flashpoint said in a research note, using another name for the militant group.
“These rifles were likely left by US forces or seized from Iraqi soldiers,” it said.
Most jihadist fighters have been found to be using Russian AK-47 rifles and that the video’s release could suggest ISIS recently seized a cache of M16s, the NBC News reported.
ISIS propaganda material in the past has shown fighters flaunting what appear to be US-made weapons, tanks and Humvees seized from retreating Iraqi forces.
The United States has supplied Iraq with hundreds of millions of dollars in military hardware — including humvees. Iraq’s government said in June that it lost 2,300 Humvees to ISIS when the militants seized the city of Mosul.
Last year, an ISIS video claimed that an airdrop of weapons intended for Kurdish fighters had ended up in the militants’ hands.
Navy Cmdr Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, was quoted as saying by the Marine Corps Times that Pentagon officials could not confirm the authenticity of the images.
The US is working with Iraqi troops and moderate Syrian opposition forces to prevent the group from gaining access to American-made weapons in the future, she said.
“However, it should come as no surprise to anyone that US ammunition could have found its way to ISIL (ISIS) fighters given the amount of other US-made equipment and weapons systems ISIL was able to capture during ongoing attacks in Iraq,” Smith said.
The rifles shown in the video appear to be the A2 variant of the M16 rather than the improved A4 version now used by many US troops, said Sim Tack, a military analyst who studies global conflicts, including those in Iraq and Syria.
The rifles also feature iron sights and lack the advanced optics most modern forces use.