ISIS Captured Enough U.S. Weapons to Arm 200,000-man Islamic Army


Six months ago, Sunni Arab militants faced a daunting firepower imbalance in their uprising against the U.S.-equipped Iraqi army west of Baghdad.
But once their campaign for the city of Fallouja was launched in January, their lethal capabilities were bolstered from the stockpiles of the Iraqi armed forces.
Many soldiers fled, throwing down their weapons, which were picked up by the insurgents. Police stations and security posts overrun by Sunni militants yielded more martial booty to be turned against the forces of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s Shiite Muslim-led government.
“Praise God, we soon had enough weapons to fight for one or two years,” said Ahmad Dabaash, spokesman for the Islamic Army, a Sunni rebel faction, who spoke in a hotel lobby here in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region. “And now? Don’t even ask!”
By “now,” he was referring to the current ground assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the Al Qaeda breakaway group that in the last two weeks has seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-most populous city. Fighting alongside ISIS formations are other Iraqi Sunni Arab factions such as the Islamic Army, which rose against the U.S. occupation a decade ago.
As the Iraqi government mobilizes to halt the insurgents’ advance toward Baghdad, the capital, there is no full accounting of the stocks of plundered arms, ordnance and gear. But experts agree that the haul is massive, with implications for the merging wars in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
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Shiite Turkmens in the Iraqi town of Tuz Khurmatu prepare to head out in mid-June to defend their homes in the nearby town of Basheer after it was seized by Sunni militants. (Karim Sahib, AFP/Getty Images)

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