Analysis of Wilayat Sinai: The ISIS Tentacle in Egypt

Table of contents

1.       Who and where is Wilayath Sinai?

a.      History

b.      Geography

2.      Wilayath Sinai: Structure

a.       Organization

b.      Armament

c.       Propaganda and others

d.      Training

3.      Wilayath Sinai: Military Elements

a.       Snipers, the elite forces of WS

b.      Technicals

c.       IEDs, SVBIEDs and mines

d.      Light infantry quality

e.       Armoured force

f.        ATGMs

g.       MANPADs

4.      Wilayath Sinai: Combat Operations

a.       Ambushes, assaults and selective targeting

b.      Assaults and other type of combats

                                                              i.      Operation A – Raid after the VBIED

                                                             ii.      Operation B – Tank recovery

                                                           iii.      Operation C – Assault on a location

                                                           iv.      Operation D – RPG ambush

                                                             v.      Operation E – RPG-7 attack

                                                           vi.      Operation F – Gang style attacks

c.       AA operations

d.      Hiding and timing

5.      Wilayath Sinai: Economy

6.      Abu Osama al-Masri, hidden in the footages?

First of all I would like to thanks Victor Lledo (@victorlledo) for help me to translate this very long article. Secondly I would also like to thanks (@NoorNahas1) and Mohamed Mansour (@Mansourtalk) for their kind colaboration.

Edited on june 2017.

 Who and where is Wilayath Sinai?

History

Wilayat Sinai, literally Sinai Province, is the branch of Daesh in Egypt, and especially the Sinai peninsula, their home-base. The group was formed on November 2014 when they pledged allegiance to ISIL, before that they were known as Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, what means Supporters of the Holy House in reference to Jersualem.

But the roots of this organization go back to 2004 and they are closely related to Al Qaeda and also to a publication from that year called Idarat Al-Tawahush (Management of Savagery) that publication advocated to provoke Egyptian security forces into taking disproportionate actions against them, rising sympathies from among Muslims worldwide and local populations building good press for the jihadists.  While the publication is somehow dated, it is widely assumed that it had a big impact on jihadi groups in the Sinai from 2004 until now and certainly fits very well with typical violent strategies used since then by ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen. It also did stablish that their final goal would be to size large areas and effectively control them as an Islamic State, as a Caliphate.

The amount of troops under their command range from 500 to 1.200 soldiers, however it is sure that the civilian supporting network is much bigger and especially among the Arab tribes from the area.

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Logo of Wilayath Sinai

Geography

It is important to take into account the special characteristics of the Sinai peninsula.

The population living in the peninsula can be estimated around 0,6 millions from wich 420.000 would be in the North and 165.000 would be in the South, generally speaking the Sinai is a low populated and poor region with most of the wealth concentrated in the maritime and land routes at the north.

But the peninsula is a hub for the legal and illegal trade, especially that of weapons, drugs and persons.  Smuggling and traffic is a trade that usually, and historically,  moves from the South and West,  from countries like Somalia, Libya or Sudan with the ultimate goal to reach Gaza, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and others.

Obviously seizing power and exerting control over these activities is important for any aspiring jihadi or criminal group and can be very important for the self-sustainment of the Wilayat Sinai. Therefore it is also strategically and morally important for ISIS and other jihadi groups that might be able to establish supply routes thanks to the lack of control of the peninsula by Egyptian authorities.

Also the human landscape is pretty complex because we are facing a long standing tradition of rebelliousness and a divided society with a rich North and a poor South divide, an area invaded by Israel during its wars against Egypt, a government power structure and also a high number of Bedouin tribes and finally a relevant number of foreigners dealing in dark businesses related to criminal and terrorist activities adding fuel to an explosive situation and bringing in the influence, ideas and power structure of foreign jihadi groups.

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The tribal configuration of Sinai favors jihadi operations

This map shows the population density and the differences between the Sinai and Egypt’s North. It also shows the differences between North and the South of the Sinai peninsula.

The terrain and geography is highly complex and well suited for guerrilla tactics.

The peninsula is surrounded on the West by the Suez Canal and the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba on the East. Most of the territory is a very dry desertic area with big plains at the north (A1) and a difficult area with lots of elevations and depressions excavated by frequent flash floods (A2) finally, the Southern area is characterized by an extremely rough, abrupt, and mountainous terrain (A3).

 

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Wilayath Sinai structure

Organization

Most of WS attacks in the Sinai have taken place near the Rafah border crossing near Gaza where it is thought that ISIS has some supporters, this is probably because when Ansar Beit Al Maqdis pledged alliance to ISIL they split in various groups, but mainly they became WS and Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade which operates in Gaza area. The whole North-Eastern coastal area of the Sinai can be considered the most active area for WS this entails a certain degree of  complicity with the tribes in that area which are the Tarabin and the Sawarka, however we are sure that the best suited terrain to establish static or temporal central HQs camps are on the Southern A2 and A3 map areas because the lack of population and roughness of the terrain is just perfect for that, however those areas are at a distance from WS area of influence so there they should have some logistical and back up infrastructure at least.

We must take in to account the general situation of guerrilla and terrorist groups fighting against their own State and against the International Community, this requires a high degree of decentralization to allow the “top echelon” of the organization to survive, however  a level of decentralization too high can lead to internal tensions because of the lack of instructions or a clear leadership, so for WS the target should have been to create a good balance between a decentralized organization divided in highly self-sufficient cells and an effective and uncontested but protected leadership.

In order to achieve that the most likely option would be to divide the main military operations area under influence areas where every subgroup is also divided in other cells, every cell would be charged to prepare small scale operations, get local support and resources and get intelligence or recruit forces.

At the same time the central HQs would be the ones tasked to maintain a true link with global ISIS leaders to get the scarce resources which they could bring them or even to coordinate certain terrorist and propaganda actions. Also the central HQs of the group should be charged to maintain high-level meetings with other terrorist or criminal groups and with important tribal members, key finance moves, especially to buy and sell weaponry and other kind of goods and to directly plan the “large campaigns” or important operations in the Sinai.

The most pressured area by far is the northeastern part of the Sinai, and especially around the cities of Al Arish and Rafah near the border with Gaza, this suggests a clear core of local support, after all their leader comes from a well known family of Al-Arish and even him and his father are thought to have links with Hamas in Gaza.

From our point of view a very interesting element indeed is their propaganda ability,  close to the prowess of  ISIS in Iraq and Syria what suggests that some knowledge could have been shared and sometimes even it is possible that WS send its own material to the proficient ISIS editors to lately publish it and so providing a high sensation of centralization and a truly working Caliphate, something which probably is not much else of a mirage because the true links between ISIS and its Sinai province can not be so big in so far they are pushed into secrecy.

We believe that WS has local subgroups at certain parts of the north Sinai while there are still some units with their own special character and training which are probably under the direct command of the central leadership who decides where to use them. It is here where the best snipers, ATGM and MANPAD operators, propaganda units, recoilless rifles, IED/SVBIED and maybe mortar units operate, including also a significant network of civilian supporters providing refuge, supplies, repairs and vital intelligence and information for WS operations.

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WS SPG-9 73 mm recoilless rifle.

What is sure is that they have a network of small non inhabited logistic depots in the desert, they are carefully hidden to pass unnoticed to air and ground surveillance, for that reason they build small parking lots for cars that are carefully camouflaged to resemble local vegetation patterns, or use small warehouses painted with desert colors in the middle of nowhere to hide small things like explosives, IEDs, weapons, ammunitions, oil, or other artifacts.

Sometimes they also have small compounds in the middle of the desert with “villas” ready to be used as safe houses with living rooms, garages, a pantry to hide supplies, and even depots and workshops to produce IEDs or VBIEDs those places can be a good indicative of the local support to their cause and even sometimes they could have been provided by local supporters.

They are self-sufficient, even for safety reasons, for example along several inspections Egyptian forces found a small solar panel, and several arc welders, most likely used to produce IEDs or DIY mounts for the technicals, anyway the electricity consumption could alert authorities because it means that somebody is consuming a lot of electricity in the middle of the desert, so being self-sufficient helps to hide themselves. The use of tunnels is also pretty common.

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Solar panel.
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On the photo of the left upper corner you can appreciate 4 welders by electricity used to produce IEDs.
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Hidden parking lot. The food on the soil indicates that it has been recently abandoned.

All in all we can assess that they probably have a very important tribal and rural support in the North Eastern desert where they are able to hide small depots and compounds ready to be used as safe houses with production, living and provision capabilities, also the rural support gives them a good possibility for recruitment, training and gathering of intelligence in the desert areas.

Also inside the cities, and especially Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah they have a high degree of local support, which provides them with intelligence, small depots and better options for economical, communications and political opportunities.

Their ability to take advantage of their local support has been remarkable and allowed them to hit Egyptian forces in the area however their fortress is their weakness because they do not seem to be able to expand their military strength to other parts of the Sinai maybe because of the own inter-tribal tensions, however their terrorist activity extends through all of Egypt but we can not fully assess if this is due to WS or to other ISIS or AQ branches.

Another point to stress is that their audacity levels are increasing with time which shows an increasing level of self-confidence thanks to the local support, this has produced some propaganda depictions which may have some grounding in reality like ostentation of their big convoys through populated areas sometimes with even more than 13 cars in spite of the risks like being betrayed or to encounter with Egyptian security forces.

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Armament

From the point of view of the light weaponry they tend to use typical AKs, like AK-47, AKM, AKMS or their copies from a a high number of different countries, also we have rarely seen FN FALs probably from the 50.00 version and a small number of AK-74s, Hungarian AMD-65s and Yugoslavian AK based assault rifles wich differ from the original ones in the length of their barrel. Also we saw what looks like a Beretta AR 70/90 on hands of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.

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This photo is a good resume of most of the light weapons in their hands.

The medium machine guns are PK or their copies most times the Chinese version called Type 80 and even the coaxial variant called PKT.

The sniper rifles tend to be semiautomatic Soviet SVD Dragunovs or Romanian PSLs and the Austrian anti-materiel HS.50 while also a few American M24s.

The HMGs tend to be 12,7 mm DShKMs, 12,7 mm M2 Browning of various versions and 14,5 mm KPVs and even a  Chinese QJG-02G.  HMGs are mounted on technicals or used with tripods.

Their fire support comes from mortars of different calibers, especially 60 mm Helwan an Egyptian copy of the Chinese Type 63 mortar, also we have documented that they captured a few M1938 Soviet 120 mm mortars but at the moment WS has preferred to use 60 mm mortars because of their easy transport and concealment possbilities. They also have a few Soviet 122 mm OF-21 and 107 mm artillery rockets used to bomb Israel.

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In the anti-armor role they tend to use a huge amount of IEDs of different loads against the different targets (MBTs, IFVs, APCs, MRAPs…), RPG-7s with PG-7VM warheads and the powerful Russian 9M133 Kornet ATGM also we have seen a few SPG-9s and one 9M111 Fagot used for training.

Also a rare technical carefully deployed by the group has a Swiss 25 mm automatic Oerlikon KBA gun probably taken from a YPR-765A1 captured to the Egiptian Army.

The armored forces of Wilayah are pretty small and also their ability to use their scarce vehicles for long periods is weak due to the lack of spare parts, ammunition, oil consumption or training but at the moment there are images of one YPR-765A1 which is a Dutch version of the American AIFV, itself an upgraded variant of the M-113 with better armor and a 25 mm automatic gun and a 7,62 mm coaxial machine gun driven by the group after its capture.

The other vehicle is the jewel of the crown, a M-60A1 with a TTS sight complex that was captured along the YPR to the 2nd Field Army, 2nd Corp, 16th Mechanized Division.

The IEDs are very common ranging from those designed to kill troops in the open to the ones designed to destroy tanks or lightly armored vehicles, they also have the ability to produce VBIEDs, however they are less common and not as sophistacated as those from the ISIS heartland. Among IEDs they also have mines and at least one Czech PP Mi Sr “bouncing Betty”.

Finally there are proofs showing that they have been able to get a certain amount of MANPADs, to be more precise from the Strela-2 family but most of them might not have bateries to make them work.

Propaganda and others

When Ansar Beit Al Maqdis pledged alliance to ISIS something changed in their way they present themselves to the world, since that day they have vastly improved their propaganda apparatus that now is truly part of the powerful ISIS media network.

It is likely that at times the propaganda material is sent to ISIS media HQs to be edited and released for WS what would explain the high quality of their propaganda that suddenly evolved when they became part of ISIS, also it is possible that they got advice and maybe even proffesionals to do the job.

For example we have seen that they have at least a recording team with two cameramen that stay with WS during its actions, also we conclude that they are not fully dedicated to record as they are fully armed.

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Two cameras, the one that took the photo and the man on the left.
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Same situation as in the upper image

Also their way of presenting their videos is the same as ISIS and their propaganda looks to be centralized but specialized in their region by accusing Egyptian forces of diverse attrocities and unjustices while they show themselves as the saviors of the people by helping the population and letting the children come on them.

From what can be seen in one of their videos where an instructor who was teaching characteristics of ATGMs and MANPADs we were able to see that the computer was always disconnected from internet and that it had a common and free security program called “True Crypt” depending on Microsoft and whose active life ended on 5/2014 and they even advice the customers to migrate it to Bit Locker, as we can see on the clock of the computer the image was taken on 2015 so the program arguably installed to protect certain information is just outdated. These types of programs help to hide and protect certain documents that the user might want to protect.

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This is the image, the key looking down is the “True Crypt” and the clock at the corner on the left marks 2015.

In the “Islamic Caliphate” every Wilhayat has a governor, of course in the case of those provinces where ISIS is a hidden group the governors are just nominal charges, however in their target of establish a Caliphate sometimes they execute propaganda actions with the aim of show themselves as something else to than a guerrilla group, however it is true that those propagandistic actions have a point of truth and show that at least they exert certain control in some areas that allow them to feel they safe enough to appear in the middle of a location with their combat suit and their AKs giving sweets to the children or establishing armed controls with technicals in a secondary road or showing some kind of bureaucracy with papers with the stamp of ISIS.

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All this images show a certain level of penetration of ISIS among some places and must worry a lot to the Egyptian governor in the Sinai as far as it shows a small but ambitious and matching power in the region.

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Emblem used by WS propaganda media.

Training

While sometimes there is a important difference in quality between units of WS, most times they show an acceptable level of training in basic infantry tactics, something not commonly seen in MENA, however the important differences between the units in our opinion proves that there is a decentralized recruitment or training or at least different levels of trainings among WS subunits.

We have been able to ascertain that they do common basic exercises like walk with the equipment in column through the desert, and also they train in typical obstacles like the bars.

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Also we think that they get a good training to manage MMGs, HMGs and assault rifles and they have done some practice and learn some shooting essentials, but the designated marksman and sniper units really stands out and seems to have done an extensive training with specialist shooting practice, camouflage and infiltration techniques.

Shooting practices as in the case of the snipers is undertaken in makeshift temporary ranges or at least in exremelly poor and hasty locations. We can know about this thanks to the kind of targets and the infrastructure at use, for example we can see how they shoot at balloons, a “temporary” and easy to put target, this makes a lot of sense as far as the bigger the compound more possibilities to be recognised from above or from the ground.

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What is sure is that they have some kind of small training and / or teaching facilities because we have seen how they were taught in a sober room where there was sunlight meaning that it is on the surface, not underground, also the room had just chairs and the bare material to teach the “students” on marksmanship.

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Note how an open window on the right side let the sunlight come in the room proof that they are not underground, also the cable at the left of the door indicates that it could be connected to the Egyptian energy net.

By the way they were getting a first background about the most advanced, and complex weapons that the group operates, things like MANPADs and ATGMs, for example they had an inert 9M111 Fagot missile and its launcher and also a Kornet-E launcher with a 9M133-1 missile as we can see in the next image.

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Also as you can see they give relatively advanced theoretical lessons about the weapons.

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It must be said that the 9M133 Kornet is the most advanced Russian ATGM and it should be able to penetrate most, if not all of the best MBTs of the Egyptian army, but also the version 9M133-1 shown by the group is the most capable version of the Kornet.

It is also interesting to note how in one image the instructor is speaking about the M-60 Patton tank of the Egiptian army and he is appointing its weak spots, where AT projectiles must be aimed, the rear side of the hull where the engine and fuel are located, and the rear of the turret where the ammunition stores, as we can see in ISIS videos when using ATGMs they are doing exactly what it is taught in these images, as you can see in the following pictures.

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While this can just be appreciated in the video the missile hits the hull’s rear side or the turret causing an inmediate explosion that has probably destroyed tha tank and killed its crew.

Also the instructor has an inert and an active model of a Strela-2 one sitting on the stand and the other displayed on the wall, which looks a DIY mock up but gives still a good idea to teach as conventional armies do everywhere.

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Also having a closer look at WS MANPAD markings we can clearly see that at least one of them is a 9K32-M, also known as Strela-2B an improved version over the first Strela-2s.

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From bottom to top the third inscription indicates the “M” of the upgraded 9K32-M.

The instructor trains both for ATGMs and MANPADs, so it is likely that we are facing a veteran, an old member of the army or a jihadi who has received training outside.

Wilayath Sinai: Military Elements

Snipers, the elite units of WS

Most times sniper and designated marksman in non-State armies are inter-exchangeable roles depending on the nature of the mission, true snipers normally prefer bolt action rifles while designated marksman tend to use semiautomatic precision rifles. However while snipers can sometimes use semiautomatic precision rifles, designated marksmen rarely use bolt action rifles.

Also designated marksmen and snipers can support other military actions, like in an ambush, to hostigate lone military forces by killing one or two soldiers from the distace and get out of an area undetected is normally a mission for snipers.

During the first WS videos we saw the typical designated marksman / sniper units using semiautomatic Soviet SVD Dragunovs and Romanian PSLs both using the 7,62 x 54R cartridge, however and especially on 2017 we have seen a much more especialized role for sniper units, this time mainly using the Austrian HS. 50 antimaterial rifle with the powerful 12,7 x 99 cartridge.

About designated marksmen we have seen that sometimes they are attached to the forces of the first echelon to fulfil even a sharpshooter role, but less oftentimes they also have dedicated sharpshooter with powerful magnification scopes mounted on powerful assault rifles, like the FN FAL.

Rifles like the Dragunov with adequate magnification scopes and good training can accurately reach distances up to 600 metres and even up to 800 metres with some luck in certain aspects of the rifle and the shooter, while rifles like the  HS.50 can reach distances  up to 1,5 km.  However, lacking of proper training and practice most guerrilla groups fail to exploit the maximum range of these weapons.

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For MENA standards a rifle like this semiautomatic PSL can serve for sniper and designated marksman purposes.
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WS spotter with binoculars, ghillie suit and an AKMS.

While the propaganda of WS may understate these issues it is true that we also see a high degree of profficiency, for example in the video released on April 2017 we saw how they were using “ghillie” camouflage suit,  relatively complex but effective one, at the same time they moved in fire teams of two soldiers, the sniper and the spotter, the last one with binoculars to provide measures to aim at the target, also they chose a well concealed position, usually aiming at the back of the observation towers where an infiltration is unexpected and so it is very difficult to locate the source of fire and give adequate response.

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Ghillie suit, desertic coloured skin mask, HS.50 antimaterial rifle with tires added to prevent flashes, they are well trained.

Also while the sniper carries the weight of the weapon the observer holds an AKMS with retractable stock to provide extra defense in case of an unexpected engagement at close range, this suggests that these fire teams tend to act alone making just a few shots and getting out of their theatre of operations.

Also they use proper masking techniques to prevent flashes from the sun or other lights over the metal parts of the rifles or on the lens of the scopes, also sometimes they use a matt or blanket to stay more comfortably on it, which suggests that they stay a long periods of time in the same position,  a sign that they are not just “snipers” as most people tend to consider them but also and equally important, they are forward observers who may or may not shoot at the observed target.

In our opinion it is likely that they have done an intense shooting training program to get an acceptable level of accuracy and a high level of infiltraion abilities. For example in the next image we see that they are trained to quietly walk over the typical dry soil filled with some vegetation while at the same time observing the area a type of advance adopted in by Special Forces in certain terrain and situations.

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Technicals

As any guerrilla group in MENA WS has a huge amount of technicals, normally they are Toyotas that sometimes have weapons attached, in the case of WS they use to have a frontal shield and a M2, DShK or KPV HMG, but sometimes we have seen very rare models with Swiss 25 mm automatic Oerlikon KBA gun, SPG-9 recoilless rifles or even one Chinese 14,5 mm QJG-02G similar to the Soviet ZGU-1.

A normal Toyota without a weapon can carry one driver, a co-driver and seven fully armed troops at the back bed, three seated on each side while one stand up with a PK machine gun supported on the roof.

But probably along the force there is a logistic element ready to transport some extra material and / or ready to upload all the loot. Also most of the Toyotas have a common camouflage made by adding some sand and dust to the car, although it is very likely that some driving training or driving instructions are given to drive in column at high speeds or to adopt the best positions to use the weapons installed on the Toyotas.

From our point of view the most interesting technical is the one with the 25 mm Oerlikon, a vehicle that has been rarely deployed by WS but shows a high degree of adaptability behind this group.

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Technical with the 25 mm gun during a propagandistic road control in the Sinai.
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Another point of view of the 25 mm Oerlikon, note the DIY crosshair cleverly attached in front of the gunners sight.

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Maybe the most interesting feature that also shows the high level of technical thinking behind WS is that as we can see in the upper image there is an observer with binoculars who tells the gunner the corrections that have to be done to hit the target,  a good idea to aim a gun that normally would have been much more difficult to use in the battlefield, and that now thanks to this method of operation can be really effective, also sparing ammunition, something very important taking in to account the likely difficulties of WS to get 25 mm ammunition.

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IEDs, SVBIEDs and mines

IEDs are one of the most important tools of WS to provoke losses to the Egyptian security forces, they are used in different ways and they are designed against different targets.

We have seen IEDs used to destroy tanks, IFVs, APCs, MRAPs, unarmored military vehicles and even civilian ones with a high level of effectiveness, most times they are used in the same way as Iraqi insurgency against the U.S so they just try to blow them close to the target and get out of the area, but also a few times they are used to enhance ambush operations.

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Example of WS IED.

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Finally it is very interesting to note the use of small IEDs very well positioned and manualy activated to kill small groups of soldiers.

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The red circles indicate where the IED was placed

If WS propaganda reflects well their tactics we are sure that IED attempts are the most preferred operations of the jihadist, and the predictability of Egyptian forces plays an important role on IED attack effectiveness.

Also the amount of SVBIEDs used by WS is relatively low what suggests a low level of internationalization of the “Egyptian jihad” and also a predominant importance of the local conditions over other considerations.

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The use of VBIEDs is scarce, and we have seen typical terrorist vehicle-bomb attacks against security forces and a more tactical use of this weapon in a similar way as ISIS does in the battlefield, as the first mean to shock the defenders before the main force arrives in the middle of confusion to take the target.

Also Egyptian security forces during a raid captured a Czech PP-Mi-Šr mine with two RO-1 fuses installed, here is the image:

Screenshot_6
When the wire is cut it can not be stretched and so it can not detonate, that is the way to deactivate this kind of mine fuses.

This kind of mines come from the infamous German WWII mine “Bouncing Betty” (SMi-35) and they are designed to add different types of fuses for different purposes, int this case the fuses are RO-1, the “Y” shaped thing, it has two tensed wires attached to both detonators in two different directions, to cover a wide area and when someone passes and stretches it the priming mechanism is activated.

These kind of tripwire mines or IEDs are very effective, especially  when daisy chained against large convoys, they have the disadvantage that they can not be fully controlled once installed and so it is very important to have very good intelligence about the target, because otherwise it can be activated by  a civilian person or unintended vehicle;  but for military personnel and especially big convoys they can be a substantial problem to deal with, because the wires can be very thin and difficult to see without advanced equipment, whereas a pressure activated charge can be oftentimes spotted  and remotely activated IEDs can be jammed with relatively cheap equipment.

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Material found in a WS compound to produce IEDs.
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Claimed motorbike SVBIED.

Light Infantry Quality

When we see IS propaganda videos of Syria or Iraq we assume that in theory they are designed to provide an improved view of the Caliphate and so we usually see great numerous scenes of people appearing in the middle of a street and firing the weapon from the hip without aiming at anything, while in some videos of WS this still happens we have noticed that the way of use the light weaponry is very good for what you normally expect in MENA asymmetric warfare.

For example most times they do not expose themselves firing in the middle of the street, but rather they stay as much protected as possible firing the AKs from the corner of the building, also most times they do semiautomatic or burst fire but rarely automatic fire.

Apuntan bien EE
Most times they are correctly using their weapons, aiming and firing in burst or single shoots.

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Most times they are correctly using their weapons, aiming and firing in burst or single shoots

It is very interesting to see how they manage the DShKMs from the technicals by firing a bullet and adjusting the aim, no longer than useful bursts, every thing’s pace is as slow as it has to be. A feature that you normally do not see in this type of groups is the use of a loader for a MMG, this is a common practice among professional armies to let the gunner concentrate on aiming and provide accurate firepower for longer time periods but this rarely happens in non-State armies.

As we can see in the next image during an operation there is a gunner and there is a loader holding the ammunition belt, however in this case is a rough version of the ordinary loader buddy, because he holds the belt while waiting for the gunner to waste all the ammunition that is attached to the ammunition box, maybe the situation happened because before they established themselves in the position they were moving and so just when the firefight broke and the gunner appreciated he was going to consume all the cartridges he asked for the ammunition belts be already prepared.

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The gunner of this Chinese M80 MMG is using the ammunition box to support the weapon and aim, when he should be using the bipod, what may indicate a low level of training, however on his back the loader awaits with the ammunition belt ready to feed the M80.

In the next image we can see a rare feature, what it seems a M80 MG is mounted on a tripod to gain stability, a relatively rare attachment for MMGs in MENA which in our opinion shows a decent level of MMG’s use from WS.

EE PK tripod

The ubiquitous Soviet AT rocket launcher RPG-7 is still a very capable and easy-to-use weapon on the right hands, normally WS use them with the widespreaded PG-7/PG-7V and PG-7VM warheads which are relatively old and can not face the armor of modern MBTs but they can still penetrate a M-60A1 specially if they hit the sides, and also many other APCs, MRAPs or IFVs are very vulnerable to them.

On operations like raids, ambushes or assaults RPG-7s are always there as part of every squad of 7-8 men. The operator also wears the boosters and carrier bag with another three grenade loads, they also usually have an AKMS for selfdefense. Their use is concentrated on armored vehicles, and it is fired at ≈150 metres.

Mortars are also used, but from what we have been able to see they do not seem to be used to support operations, but rather to do fast attacks by launching a few rounds over the target and then get out of the area, for this purpose the Egyptian version of the Chinese 60 mm Type 63-1 mortar is ideally suited because it is easy to handle and hide in a normal car, which can not be done with an 81 or 120 mm mortar, however we have documented how WS captured a few old but powerful Soviet M1938 120 mm mortars and its ammunition. In our opinion mortars do not appear in WS media but they might play a significant role during operations, mainly because we have seen Egyptian security forces capturing heavy mortars a few times already.

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Armoured Force

We have seen how WS was able to capture and at least drive a YPR-765A1 IFV and a M-60A1 TTS Patton, also we are sure that if they have wanted to they have been able to capture a certain amount of ammunition both for the 25 mm and the 105 mm guns that these vehicles use, however refueling and maintenance cost and how flashy those vehicles are should have made them very difficult to hide them in time. However it is not certain if they lost those vehicles, because if at least two technicals were able to get the 25 mm gun from a YPR-765A1 it means that at some point they were able to ride those IFVs to a safe area to dismount the 25 mm guns and mount them on the technical, a clear sign that they were able to readily hide those heavy vehicles.

Another problem is the relatively complexity to fire the Patton’s main gun and the complexity and fuel consumption of its engine, however with some luck and if they are eager to get those resources they can at least overcome some of these difficulties, for example they can just use the MGs of the tank in spite of the 105 mm gun.

We think that the YPR-765A1 because of its engine and armament is much less complex than the M-60 and also is useful to safely taxi troops so it could be used in relevant operations. However from our point of view the worst scenario would be if they can use that small armored fleet to make a more complex surprise raid against a more relevant army position because it is sure that Egyptian forces will not expect an attack from their own armored vehicles. However technical availability for such an operation would be very unlikely.

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For the time being the armored force of WS remains in an embryonic stage, however in spite of scarcity the material base is already there and taking into account their success with previous raids it is not unlikely that they may get more heavy vehicles in the future, specially MRAPs, Humvees or BMP-1s that could be more easily operated by them.

EE mayo 2015 YPR-765A1 4
They have retired the 25 mm gun from this YPR so maybe that gun is the same mounted on a technical, also look at the FN FAL 50.61 with folding stock.

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As shown on the videos where they captured the YPR-765A1 they also captured a soldier that could have enough knowledge about the vehicle to explain them how to roughly drive the IFV, other prisioners could have been taken and may have given WS the opportunity to know better about this armored force and how to operate the material, may be even keep the POWs captive while they become able to maintain and operate their small fleet of armored vehicles.

024
M85 machine gun, a sight and some 105 mm rounds.

ATGMs

From what it has been released we can assert that the number of ATGMs available to WS seems to be extremely scarce and even the use of the 9M111 series ATGM shown when training their troops have not been observed during combat operations.

So in our opinion it is very likely that the amount of ATGMs in their hands is very scarce, however they have well trained operators for them because as we saw they are even taught to aim at the weaker parts of the tank and even when firing at the tank’s front they know their weaker spots as certain footages show.

But as seen at the moment only the 9M133, presumably 9M133-1 variants have been used, and always against the most precious of targets, battle tanks. None the less tanks remain the most powerful weapon in ground warfare especially because of its strong armor so when a group has just a limited number of ATGMs they are used strictly against tanks. In Syria, for instance, whereas rebel groups received huge amounts of ATGMs they began to use them against other opportunity targets, not just tanks, circumstances not given in WS’ case.

Their few Kornets are very powerful and the only Egyptian tanks that could maybe withstand its penetration abilities are the M1 Abrams which are not currently deployed on WS’s theater of operation.

However, the creativity of WS leapt forward when they decided to use a Kornet against a patrol boat of the Egyptian Navy, while this kind of actions against ships are uncommon they might increase in the future as far as they are just lightly armored and even the biggest modern vessels have a thin armor, are also significantly slower than ground vehicles and can not hide well because of lack of cover making them easy targets for ATGMs.

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Wilhayat Sinai Combat Operations

  1. Ambushes, assaults and selective targeting

While ambushes are not widely documented in WS media it is likely that they have a more significant role than that reflected in their propaganda, the reason for this lack of media presence is because it is relatively difficult to record these type of operations due to the need of previous knowledge of the place where the action is going to take place and the increasing complexity of the attack scenario.

However we have been able to see some interesting ones, for example in the next one we can see that there is a column of three Egiptian army vehicles, a SUV, a Humvee and a M-113. The IED anihilates the first unarmored SUV and just after that the firefight begins from at least two firing positions, the more advanced position is on the left of the image from where two fighters with AKs fire at the column, the second firing position is not seen but rather heard and is placed in the same postion as where the operation is been recorded from where the machine gun is providing fire, this suggests an ambush position with an advanced element comprised of men with assault rifles and a second fire support position with heavier weapons. Their action plan is facilitated by the shock  effect provided by the perfectly located IED and a well chosen target, the only vehicle of the column without number plates.

EE IED ambush 1EE positions ambush

We see another ambush, this time against unarmed soldiers, although to be fair this is not an important point. This time we clearly hear an opening single fire shot maybe from a sniper or a designated marksman, and just after that we hear the barrage of a few automatic weapons firing against the unit, where the action finish.  In our opinion this clearly suggests that they had instructions to fire only after the first round was fired, which is a good tactic to make more likely a first kill and enhance the confusion moments and shock effect of the first moments, when the soldiers are more vulnerable, also to use the first shot as a signal could be because they were spreaded through different firing positions too far away between them to communicate properly, so if this happened it is very likely that they were firing from various positions with interlooking fields of fire.

EE ambush

It is likely that these soldiers were recent recruits and they were been trained what can explain why only one soldier, probably the instructor, the man with a yellow suit carries the only assault rifle in the group.

  1. Assaults and other type of combats

Operation A – Raid after the VBIED

This is one of the few operations where WS acts as ISIS would do in the Iraqi or Syrian battlefield.

First of all an extremelly powerful SVBIED preceeds the attack and creates shock, confusion, panic ensues what degrade the defensive positions, after that at least three Toyotas carry the assault group that it is awaiting a the road at less than 1,5-3 km of the target .

S P1 VBIED
Here appears the position to be attacked, the attack and the SVBIED will come from the right, and there are two M-60A1s and three M-113s behind the barriers at the position and also there is one concealed MMG position with a FN MAG.
S P1 VBIED 2
The target just a second after the explosion.
S P1 VBIED 3
The explosion seen from the position where the assault group is waiting.

Here appears the position to be attacked, the attack and the SVBIED will come from the right, and there are two M-60A1s and three M-113s behind the barriers at the position and also there is one concealed MMG position with a FN MAG

Immediately after or coincidentally with the ensuing explosion, the assault group moves at very high speed towards the target to take advantage of the aftermath of the SVBIED, we are not sure how many Toyotas participated, but we believe that there are 3 to 4 more vehicles involved.

Next image is taken from the vehicle that in theory would be at the rear of the column, just look at the terrorist with the white rucksack.

S Tech 1

The next image in our opinion is taken from the vehicle that appears in front of the camera in the previous image, but if we look at the front of this one, we can see that there is a vehicle forward, this one at a much greater distance than the other ones.

S Tech 2

In the next image we can see that the mounted infantry accompanying the white rucksack guy has not dismounted yet, while the assault troops from another car are rushing into the position, indicating that they arrived before and paving the way for the other Toyotas to get closer to the position and land the troops.

S 1 rush

During the next part of the video we can see that there are 7-8 well organized and equipped soldiers in that SUV. First thing noted is that they all wear the typical jihad black suit, there are at least two RPG-7 operators who carry their own ammunition, presumably one man with a RPG-7 at each car, around 6 men have an assault rifle while the last one has a PK machine gun being held mounted on the car’s roof during the initial approach to provide suppressive fire while getting closer to the position,  once all the soldiers have dismounted the fighter with the MMG will follow to provide the  supporting element.

Worth noting also  how the jihadi of the next image have cleverly put the PG-7 rockets looking down inside the bag with the propellants installed on them, it is likely that he did not remove the safety fuse of the warhead because otherwise he would have probably kill himself.  This way of readying the rockets can save a lot of time, which is very important in this type of combat operations, also it reduces the need of a loader to help to reload the RPG-7 during the combat.

S 2 rush
Note how the RPG-7 warheads with the attached boosters are facing down, also note that this RPG-7 operator carries an AKMS, not a bad idea for a fast operation like this one, but maybe for this distance a submachine gun could have been more comfortable.

After this the assault group rush into the position killing the survivors and advancing through the destroyed position, one tank has been knocked, but the second one is runing away in panic from the position, less than 30 meters away from the jihadi thinking twice what to do, it looks like maybe some PG-7s were fired with low accuracy so no one hit the exposed tank that finally was able to escape.

S 1 rush runaway
Note where the runaway tank is located.

Two M-113s and one M-60 fallen on ISIS hands, the disabled tank may have get an RPG-7 at the turret but anyway we think that hand grenades were thrown inside the vehicles.  We have been able to count at least 15 killed soldiers, but the number could be even higher inside the vehicles or due to the initial SVBIED explosion.

S 1 rush 2
Aftermath.

In the next image you can appreciate relevant details of the attacked position.

S 1 AA
From left to right, the two arrows indicate the position of two M-113s that were behind the M-60A1 tank at the left on this photo, then there is the concealed machine gun position covering a road with roadblocks not visible in this photo, then there is a M1938 mortar which was subsequently captured, another M-113 an finally the M-60 that got hit.

In the next image we can appreciate that all the action has been recorded by at least two men who are also armed jihadi wearing the same equipment as their partners.

Armed WS cameraman

This operation was carefully planned, the position is relatively strong and they have the means to defend it if they had reacted in time, however the WS SVBIED shocked the position and the assault group was fast enough to take advantage of the situation attacking from one side in spite of approaching the position head on along the road, the defenders placed roadblocks and there is a concealed MG which if well managed could stop on its own the whole attack taking into account that the jihadi cars have no armor so they are very vulnerable before the infantry dismounts.

Finally in the next images we can see the loot.

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Operation B – Tank Recovery

A significant attack by WS has taken place at the outskirts of an Egyptian town, this quickly develops into a skirmish when an ISIS 9M133 Kornet, probably an improved 9M133-1 Kornet ATGM hits a M-60 Patton on the left side of the turret disabling it and causing minor fire and explosions. The 9M133 is the most modern Russian ATGM and is more than enough to deal with a 60s era tank as the Patton.

EE 9M133 Kornet
9M133 Kornet.

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After the hit a rescue operation ensues, two Humvees rush to rescue the crew while at the same time we can see how 7,62 or 12,7 mm bullets fall short by two dozen metres from the Humvees, the impact of a 12,7 mm can easily penetrate the skin of those early model Humvees. At the same time the gunner of one .50 on the Humvee tries to load a belt of ammunition, but he finally does not fire and both Humvees exit the area at high speed under heavy fire from WS.

A4
Humvee rescue operation, the red arrow marks the place where a bullet has fallen short

Follow after a second rescue operation begins, this time a better protected M-113A2 comes to do the job, but thanks to the Humvees the WS gunner managing the DShKM has adjusted its aim and now is able to hit with one round at the rightside of the M-113 hitting it twice on the left side of the Hull which until then it was able to survive three hits which more likely ended in penetrations without further damage.

EE impacto 12,7 en M-113
Image of the impact on one side of the M-113.
EE impacto 12,7 en M-113 2
Image of the impact in the other side by a 12,7 mm.

During this time the gunner of the M-113 is not able to locate the source of the attack and so he does not return fire, letting his comrades exposed to the hailstorm that rains around the target while two soldiers are working between the disabled Patton and the doors of the M-113.

After this some dismounted light infantry force seems to take over the operation to hook the M-60 to a vehicle to tow it, once this is done and the cables begin to pull off the tank the soldiers withdraw keeping the guard next to the Patton, but as the bullets continue to fall very close they finally opt for running to finally reach a protected position.

Operation C – Assault on a location

A column of about 5 Toyotas with one of them being a technical with a M2 Browning HMG heads towards their target under the protection of the morning fog, once they reach their destination, a small town in the Sinai, the technical start shooting to provide heavy fire support.

CS fog
Note how they take advantage of the fog.
CS M2 Browning
The M2 provides an excellent mean of fire support.

A designated marksman with a PSL rifle supports the lot and lead them into a small assault group of 4 AK armed riflemen that in the end of the video rush into a hasty defensive position of the army which they capture.

Operation D – RPG Ambush

This small ambush is done by approximately 5 to 10 men, the key weapon being the ubiquitous RPG-7.

The ambush is established on the sloped approaches to a settlement where a long running ramp  prevents the incoming Egyptian forces to notice what is awaiting them beyond the hilltop, by taking advantage of this situation a RPG-7 along an AK armed terrorist are placed out of view in front of the top of the slope, overlooking the road at least three men armed with AKs are waiting and possibly there is another position with AKs and a PK is waiting on the other side next to the road.

S RPG ambush 150 metres app
RPG-7 ready to fire a few seconds before the AIFV appears on top of the slope

When the AIFV appears the RPG-7 opens fire at 150 metres, he has only one opportunity and a few seconds to aim but he fails, anyway looks like the sound is again the signal to begin the firefight and the other forces begin to fire over the AIFV, however the YPR presents an improved armor that easily deals with the assault rifle and MMG fire surviving to the ambush.

The boldness to prepare an ambush on the approaches of the village under direct sun light shows a certain level of connivance or at least passivity on the part of the local population,  also the use of the slope to prepare the ambush is a very good choice that also proves that they are familiar with the enviroment.

Operation E – RPG-7 Attack

Disgracefully this footage was cut and so it is too short, however we can see in the subtitles that a RPG is used to attack a vehicle, a Panthera T6 MRAP that gets a hit in the center, just after that we hear for a moment that an automatic gun begins to fire.

Normally a RPG-7 attack is accompanied by an ambush or at least a firefight which also happened in this case, the most remarkable thing is that they were able to approach at less than 200 metres to the unit with the RPG-7.

Operation F – Gang Style Attacks

While most times WS behaves like  a conventional military unit sometimes they adopt typical criminal gangs style attacks.

Like attacking lonely unplated vehicles just by approaching to them and firing their assault rifles at very close distance, for instance:

S attempt car 2

AA Operations

As usual most of the AA capabilities of this type of groups depend on the MANPADs, and in the case of WS we have seen that they have been able to get a few Soviet Strela-2s however for these to work they depend on the the batteries that tend to expire after a few years, that way the amount of MANPADs availble for WS is very scarce.

At the moment it has been confirmed that they were able to take down an AH-64 Apache and a Mi-17 with 5 soldiers inside it. They also claimed to have shot down a civilian airliner packed with Russian holyday goers heading back to Russia (Metrojet Flight 9268), but due to the altitude where it was allegedly hit, 13.000 meters it is absolutely impossible to reach for this kind of weapon, this claim stands as a gross and cheap attempt to generate propaganda.

It is also common also for most of the HMGs mounted on the technical to have a limited but effective AA capability at close ranges.

In one of the ISIS videos we saw how an AH-64 Apache was being attacked by one technical with a KPV mounted on it, the gunner was carefully firing and aiming to a target that was less than 1, 5 km away, a distance at wich a KPV can be lethal even for a well plated AH-64 that in this case probably received some impacts which thanks to its armor did not shoot it down.

At some point the AH-64 even faces the HMG directly but the gunners kept it cool and increased the rate of fire keeping control of the bursts which give us an idea about how well trained are these terrorists.

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Finally the AH-64 exits the area probably with several impacts, during all the scene we hear how there was another technical involved firing with a HMG in the same role, so there was a small AA box in there, somehow accidental, maybe improvised but still well managed as both gunners were able to survive and probably make the AH-64 exit the area.

Hiding and timing

When they are in a combat operation they usually drive at very high speed which could be possible thanks to some basic training for the drivers, they also tend to prefer foggy days to accomplish their missions, because the fog highly limits the early warning and air power of the defenders and allows for better options when in need of withdrawal.

Night operations are not rare however those are always close engagements because they have not the means to fight during the night other than just a few night vision devices captured to the Egyptian Army, IED attacks during night time are scaled operations. The camouflage techniques include the use of soil pasted to the technical bodies and the use of foliage and vegetation for cover.

We have also observed that they tend to choose certain moments of the day like the dawn or after the lunch, moments when people by nature or location are usually distracted.

Economy

The economic factor is quite difficult to know in full for now, but we can theorize based in previous experiences with similar groups.

WS is very alike to ISIL before they conquered a true territory so their economic base is probably funded on donations, both from Salafist supporters throughout the world or from local supporters with a wide variety of reasons from ideological to political or local motivations.

Another route of revenues can be certain criminal activities, bear in mind that the area of Rafah, where WS operates is probably one of Egypt’s biggest smuggling zones and they may be actively engaged in these activities by directly moving products or by charging a “revolutionary tax” in exchange of safety.

Also they probably sell part of the loot from their operations, especially unneeded equipment like assault rifles in exchange for more advanced and interesting equipment, like MANPADs or ATGMs.

Finally, based on what we have seen in the safe houses captured by the Egyptian Army it is sure that they try to build highly self-sufficient complexes: They buy their own welders, extract and produce their own explosives and their own shrapnel, finally they might use solar panels, why? How would you get energy in certain quantity in the middle of nowhere without arise suspicions from the Police that can look at the consume of electricity of isolated installations in the middle of the desert? Solar panels can be a good option for limited things, and also sun is very powerful over the Sinai.

This kind of safe houses/safe warehouses are a key component in the homemade R+D that WS practice and they are able to provide a refuge and the technical support needed for the preparations of certain operations.

Egyptian Forces

General View

Sometimes we have been able to see what it looks like a low level of discipline in some small quarters where the defensive structures are badly built and even look poorly kept by the garrison, the continue appearance of soldiers wearing civilian clothes is even more worrying as it shows a certain lack of diligence by superiors and we must take in mind that this kind of attitudes tend to be related to corruption and funds that do not reach their targets.

Also a lot of times we see lack of training or bad practices and habits from the soldiers when harassed under fire because in the videos about snipers of WS we see how soldiers return fire exactly from the same position where they were previously targeted and also engage in “spraying”, they return fire just by shooting at random positions.

A well trained soldier normally fires only were a suspected enemy position is perceived or for suppression but not in this messy way that only allows ISIS to kill more and more soldiers.

Abu Osama Al-Masri

It is assumed that Abu Osama Al-Masri was a textile merchant born in the Sinai who has lead Wilayath Sinai since 2013 when the previous leader was killed by Egyptian security forces.

Apparently he only appeared in some of the following few images.

B ATGM 6B LE 2B LeAl Masri

But we think he also appeared in other ISIS videos hiding his identity however, let’s take a look at certain key indicatives in the next series of photos.

Every number indicates an object that appears in several images and that can be consider uncommon or even rare, the numbers are also ordered from more rare to just uncommon:

  1. Pose (rare): he has a very particular pose when he is stand up and static with the arms backward in comparison with the trunk and in general it is a very peculiar and relaxed pose.
  2. Pistol and strap (rare): a very specific sheath with a strap and a pistol, which normally is typical of high ranking officers, and even more in WS.
  3. ATGM (rare): the ability to use such weapon not just because normally you need some training, but also because the small amount of ATGMs that WS has available meaning that there are also a limited number of operators.
  4. Short globes (particular): short military globes with a specific cammo pattern.
  5. Watch (particular): a particular watch with four metal garments that shine when lit by sunlight.
  6. Shirt (uncommon): a shirt with a specific cammo pattern
  7. Balaclava (uncommon): three color pattern balaclava, not rare between jihadis
  8. Boots (uncommon): very good quality boots not always seen in WS.
01
Image 1.
B LE 2
Image 2, look at his pose.
Fin Oct 2015 4
Image 3, ook at his pose.
Fin Oct 2015 6
Image 4, look at his pose.
Fin Oct 2015 9
Image 5 *The boots ca be seen in other images taken from other angles.
03
Image 6
04
Image 7
05
Image 8

On the Image 4 you can also guess that there is some sort of hierarchical relation between the gunner who, in our opinion may be Al-Masri and the loader behind him who is awaiting with a belt of cartridges to feed the MG, also the man with the AK behind them look to be waiting orders.

While it may be hard to confirm the coincidences in this case it is also true that they look suspicious, due particularly to the highly telling posing and gesturing and the teaching and use of the ATGMs.

It is thought that Al-Masri had not relation with the Egyptian military other than maybe his compulsory military service, so his ability to use the 9K133 might indicate contacts in the military or support from outside.

For all the interested I have created a folder with all the images and videos I used to make this analysis, there you will find evidences and useful resources, especially most of all the videos of Wilayath Sinai until 2017. LINK.

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A deep look at the heart of ISIS war machine: From tactics to doctrine

On this article we will have a deep look at ISIS from the military point of view and so we will analyze their structure, materials, way of fight and different tactics and tricks used by them on the battlefield.

If you like it I would be grateful if you could share it.

Table of content:

  1. ISIS in the attack
  2. ISIS on the defense
    1. Terrain, positions and dynamics
    2. Antitank defenses
    3. IEDs and mines
    4. Antiair defense
  3. Evolution: The egg wants to be a condor
  4. The individuals
    1. VBIEDs
    2. Artillery 
    3. Drones
    4. Snipers, sharpshooters and designated marksman
    5. Technicals and DIY vehicles
    6. Chemical warfare
  5. Deductions about their military organization

 ISIS in the attack

Depending on the degree of surprise foreseen by ISIS planners they may employ different tactics to assault a position and they are not tactics so far from those used by a conventional army. Most times they do a dismounted assault with fire support from technicals and sometimes spearheaded by a tank at whose back the soldiers advance, this is a very primitive tactic but still useful against low quality forces like those from Iraq and Syria are in most cases.

Another times when there is a big plain between them and their enemies and especially against Kurdish backed by a powerful air force they advance fast and supresively, this time the VBIEDs will open the way while mechanized infantry units advance mounted in DIY armored vehicles moving at top speed against enemy positions and at the same time they open suppresive fire against the enemy positions, by doing this so fast they are provoking in the enemy a panic reaction that ultimately leads to give up the position because of the fear to be surpassed, essentially this is known as a mounted attack a very risky option from the point of view of a conventional army mainly compensated by its fastness.

When they are dismounted the assault tactics of the infantry are quite typical, the main part of the weaponry consists of assault rifles either from AK or M-16 series, also a few machine guns normally from PK series are used to provide suppresive fire, hand grenades are used before rush in the enemy position or to clean close spaces, finally RPG-7s are used against fortified positions like walls, barriers or wickets.

screenshot_6
The best units of the Caliphate also employ fire and maneuver tactics on a very basic way

The use of technicals varies a lot between different forces but normally they comprise 14,5 and 23 mm guns while sometimes they can also mount 57 mm S-60 guns or M1939 37 mm guns or even recoilless rifles.

Tanks are used as mobile shields and the infantry advances from behind also they are used for heavy and direct fire support and just under some conditions they are able to engage enemy tanks, also it is very likely that normally because of the expensive and scarce ammunition for the main gun they just use coaxial or top mounted machine guns.

Screenshot_3.png

The use of tanks in urban warfare has appeared just a few times in ISIS videos but maybe this is an underrepresented way of use in ISIS media because they normally record big victories and urban warfare is a slow advance one and so it doesn’t provide the glorious image that ISIS wants to present on their videos, also it must be said that the most common antitank warheads are PG-7V and PG-7VM both capabe of penetrate every T-54, T-55, T-62, Type 59 or Type 69 in Iraq or Syria with the exception of the T-55(A)MV and so use them during urban engagements is a risky option.

By knowing their armor, the protection capability that it offers and the mainly offensive spirit of the tank they normally use them during their fast attacks in the open, with especial success against the Syrian Army and their allies during flanking maneuvers to cut their rearguard and always accompanied by motorized or mechanized infantry to assault and occupy positions.

Also about the how the attack is performed they normally attack a position from multiple axes and a whole area by attacking from various sides, especially exploiting weak points in the defensive system and trying to threat the main supply routes by doing a pincer maneuver and taking advantage of the fear to be surrounded of the defenders.

During the course of the operations ISIS must be 24/7 aware of the enemy air forces and so the deployment of advanced air observers to prevent as much as possible the incoming enemy air strikes is a likely option to be used, but to be fair the best ISIS way to deal with enemy air supremacy is the use of misleading tricks against the air observation.

It is very likely that normally they move in groups as small as possible because otherwise the probability of detection and engage by enemy jets is higher but if they move in groups of just two or three cars they can be considered possible civilians and so do not be attacked, but when ISIS suffers a heavy offensive and they need to move large reinforcements in a short period of time it is unavoidable to send large convoys, when doing so they expose themselves a lot but still it is very likely that they try to move during the night when in theory air supremacy is less effective.

For what I have been told normally Daesh basic combat unit is called “Fassil” and is equivalent to a motorized squadron, it usually consists of three SUVs Toyota, one of which would be responsible for the logistic functions, this type of unit would consist of about 10 men armed with assault rifles, one or two machine guns, one rocket launcher and some hand grenades, of course ISIS is not as homogeneizated as a professional army and so this structure is not omnipresent but still this may give us a clue on how they work.

The organic addition of one logistic SUV sounds like a guerrilla evolution created when they needed high autonomy and independence on the battlefield against the US, this kind of unit might be much more difficult to locate and decide to engage by an air force and also it reduces the logistics footprint for the Caliphate, while its disadvantages would be the difficulty to concentrate and coordinate large forces in brief periods of time, but it is true that the combat environment being faced by ISIS is relatively slow and numerically low in comparison with what a conventional army would expect what compensates the disadvantages at a certain degree.

Another typical trick even used by Iraq during 1991 consists in generate big columns of smoke by burning some crtitical places with very inflammable content, also against the link officers from artillery or the air force they also burn large amounts of tires to generate a smoke screen not as dense as when a big installation is burnt but still effective for a short period of time, this kind of tactics were heavily employed when the great operation to reconquer Mosul started.

IRAQ-CONFLICT
Smoke is the true AA cover of the Caliphate on the battlefield

Like the smoke Daesh tends to use the cover of sandstorms to launch large assaults and we have also seen some night raids by their best units. some of them even using silenced pistols.

Another common tactic used by ISIS is related to the use of large amounts of dummy vehicles simulating military ones, of course this is a very old trickc but it is still interesting to find it on ISIS hands. It is possible that at a certain degree the old Saddam’s officers are behind something like this because it corresponds to high intensity warfare not well known by guerrilla groups.

cxac0p0wqaata_6
ISIS wood dummy vehicles simulating a T-54/55 and a Humvee

We also think that dummy vehicles are not massively used but just when they want to confuse enemy air survelliance and make them spend time and ammunition on false targets while the main operations are ongoing in other part.

It has been relatively common to see some strange large inventions consisting on a kind of big umbrella totally covering a tank, this could be used during the displacement phase to the concentration areas before being clearly detected or even during an offensive to protect them from the jets above by hidding the vehicle.

Most of these tricks are more effective against the SyAF whose airplanes most of the times are outdated and so their systems are not so capable to detect this kind of ruses.

Another common trick is related to the use of tunnels at every level, from the front to the homefront to move and store resources, to live in, to be protected from air strikes and artillery before an attack and to safely move troops from one point to another in to an area  with prepared defenses, like a village or a town.

ISIS on the defense

Terrain, positions and dynamics

The predilect ISIS defense is established in a medium size urban area with some civilian population to be used as human shields, a big net of tunnels to comunicate different key points and a well knowledge of the surroundings to avoid the enemy  to enter the town but if it happens they may have a few strongpoints well entrenched with a lot of IEDs deployed to resist.

Sometimes when they want to cover a retreat from a  position they let a few suicides at their back and they get out during the night, also I have not confirm it but it is possible that sometimes they use light forces equipped with technicals and a few ATGMs to delay the enemy and screen the movements of the main force.

ISIS understands well that the objective is not to build positions with very gross walls but rather difficult to locate because once it is known it is just a matter of time that jets, helicopters or artillery will reduce it to ashes.

Oposite to the ISIS “doctrine” has been the finding of tanks being used as pillboxes on fixed positions covered at the top by the roof of a house, while we are not sure if it was because of the lack of fuel for their tanks in our opinion it just represents a desperate decision to use a valuable tank that otherwise would be absolutely useless.

Some elements normal for every army like dig trenches, put obstacles for the vehicles, clear the fields of fire, demolish buildings to cut roads, build barriers to avoid enemy to see them or even use blankets to cover certain areas or certain gaps on tunnels are also typical of Daesh.

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ISIS isn’t lame and they also use conventional field fortifications

Sometimes we have even seen them build something like petrol moats to act as fire barriers and above all again generate smoke against enemy observation both from ground and air.

The defense on open terrain is uncommon because it means huge disadvantages for them because of the lack of heavy armor, materials to build defensive lines in deepth, unexperience on that field, and exposure to enemy observation especially of the fixed positions.

We think that populated locations are their guide and reference to establish defensive positions and it is very likely from their point of view that every urban stronghold has the means to protect its position and at a certain degree its surroundings with its own material, while there must be something like “motorized reserves” by using technicals and civilian vehicles ready to be moved when one stronghold is attacked by a superior force, this may specially work in terms of ATGMs, a relatively expensive, scarce and vital weapon to defeat the core of the armored forces attacking them, however if the fight goes inside the town things would work different and evolve to something very close to an attrition battle.

While in our opinion there is not a clear way of defend by ISIS in terms of formations like a perimeter defense or a reverse slope or so in our opinion they tend to use a mix of them and specially prepare ambushes in some relatively open terrain inside the towns, in places like parks, parkings, or big buildings or complex of buildings with some open ground surrounding them.

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The huge urban ambush settled by ISIS on December, 2016 at Al Salam hospital in Mosul was a big reverse to the Iraqi forces and prolonged the Mosul battle

Antitank defenses

ISIS antitank defense engagement ranges table

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Green = normally used, Yellow = sometimes used, Blue = rarely used

How does ISIS engage armored forces, and especially tanks?

If we think it cold,  ISIS on the ground is facing an outmatching armor, in Iraq they fight against M1A1 Abrams and T-72Ms, in Syria they fight against T-90s, T-72Bs from advanced variants and other capable tanks, and against Turkey they are fighting against Leopard 2A4s and M-60Ts, try to battle them as equals by counterposing their own armored forces wasn’t a viable option for ISIS and so they have developed quite complex but not new antitank tactics.

The best long range AT weapon of ISIS is the ATGM, while they have operated a lot of ATGMs we can say that the 9M111 Fagot, 9M113 Konkurs and 9M133 Kornet are the most common among their forces, while missles like the Konkurs or the Kornet maybe are not able to deal at the front with the most advanced tanks like the M1A1 or the T-90 it is sure that every ISIS ATGM hitting the side will probably penetrate and cause big damage to even the most advanced tanks.

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ATGM is the best AT weapon on hands of ISIS, on the image a 9M133 Kornet

At medium ranges from approximately 1.200 or less metres the best ISIS weapon is the recoilless rifle, normally a 73 mm SPG-9 but also B-10s or M40s, very effective against modern tanks if they hit them on the sides but they need a certain degree of training to be fired, in exchange they are much cheaper than ATGMs and so they can also be used against lightly armroed vehicles and infantry.

Finally at close ranges like 400 metres or less they use RPGs, normally RPG-7s but sometimes M72 LAWs or similar one-shot bazookas, also for area denial or to canalize enemy forces they employ important amounts of minefields using both conventional or DIY mines, they also employ heavy weapons like 12,7, 14 and 23 mm calibers against lightly armored vehicles and hand grenades or even antitank grenades at very close range.

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The most widely used RPG, the RPG-7 is a very useful tool in hands of ISIS

Another tactic used by ISIS to engage enemy armor consist in use large concentrations of mortar fire, that is a very common tactic among profesional armies but not so common in the case of non-state actors with small amounts of ammunition at their dispposal, it has not been widely documented but on the claimed page of 15 vehicles destroyed by ISIS in Syria two or one were because of likely or confirmed mortar fire, this gives us a percentage of 7,5% to 14% by comparison the ATGMs, the most effective weapon of the Caliphate represented slightly more than 50%. The problem is that some weapons are better suited to be recorded than others and mortars are not good for that purpose because you need more than one camera and they are not as predictable and spectacular so maybe they do not appear on ISIS propaganda.

While some may ask why for example mines/IEDs are not so effective in my opinion it has a big relation with a good training because sometimes apart from the most obvious avenues of approach like roads or lanes they are not very good at identify the enemy attack directions and also they don´t have massive amounts of this kind of weapons, something very important when you want to deny areas.

Since the begin of the SCW on 2011 the use of ATGMs by every side has been very basic, normally it was a group of a few men with the launcher and the missiles who sighted and attacked an enemy force, but since the begining of 2017 we have seen an increasing refinement on the ISIS way of use of ATGMs, especially against the Turkish armor in Al-Bab.

For example let’s imagine a normal situation near Al-Bab, a formation of 4 Turkish M-60Ts is facing ISIS, M-60T is impermeable to every ISIS weapon so they must be attacked from the sides, but this unit is formed covering a big arch and so if one ATGM is shot it is very likely that one of the tanks will be able to locate the place where it was fired and open fire, from this situation arises a new necessity for ISIS, that is to strike more than one vehicle at the same time, a tactic that also leads to a bigger capability to destroy enemy vehicles because they will not have as much time to react.

We have seen a few recent double and even triple simultaneous ATGM strikes against a single unit of armored vehicles, what is a big problem to deal. This kind of attacks at the same time from different positions indicate a relatively high level of train and coordination because it requires to have previously selected the positions for more than one ATGM launcher and an officer to coordinate the action or at least pre-establish a common plan.

And that is the other point, the experience show us that ISIS has been able to correctly guess the best firing points against enemy armor and also a flexible enough force to move the scarce resources when and where they are required.

Also sometimes they use tunnels to position themselves behind the armored forces and strike them from the back where they are very vulnerable.

IEDs and mines

Daesh gathered a lot of experience about IEDs during the years of the occupation when they were normally planted on the expected roads where the foreign convoys were going to pass. There were a few types of IEDs like those using an impact fuse or those remotely activated by a phone call, also when attacking civilians, another field where AQI accumulated extensive experience, the use of artifacts with timeserver was possible.

But IEDs are not just hidden bombs but also for example DIY hand grenades used to equip their infantry.

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While the use of this kind of artifacts to ambush Iraqi or Syrian forces as it was done during the occupation has had a paper during the Caliphate operations it is true that the main objective has shifted in favor of some new roles.

Fist of all when ISIS retires from a location they let it filled with hundreds of hidden booby traps used to continually produce loses to its enemies and so slowly bleed them out, also they are being used as a delay tactic to slow the enemy advance by randomly, and a lot of times hastily putting them on the likely enemy avenues of approach.

Finally we find quite likely that they use them as a typical mean to strenght some positions by putting fields of IEDs in front of them or to canalize enemy attacks towards some pre-established kill zones.

ISIS Import Most Material for Bombs and IEDs from Turkey: CAR
ISIS field of IEDs

Antiair defense

As Oryx has stated along some very interesting articles ISIS has try a lot of things to do some damage at the air forces that harass them, some of the quite desperate actions like use D-30 guns on AA role or mount captured air-air missiles on trucks to use them as AA platforms have been an obvious fail and they are just intern psychological medicine to show their population and troops that they have specific AA units dedicated to shoot down jets while their true effects are null.

However the ISIS inventory of AA weapons consist of 12,7 mm, 14,5 mm, 23 mm, 37 mm and 57 mm machine guns and guns along with some MANPADs and a few ZSU-23-4 Shilka AA vehicles.

All of those weapons are effective against low flying aircrafts, but specially against helicopters because the jets normally don`t fly so low, for example the AA machine guns may have ranges as much as 2,5 km, 57 mm guns well managed  may have a range of about 4 km and MANPADs depending on the model 6 km approximately.

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ISIS ZPU-2 double 14,5 mm machine gun on a technical, the recoil of this kind of armament mounted on cars might lead to an important lose of precision

This kind of material just allows for a close point AA defense situating the armament around the objective to protect it, however if they want to give a certain AA cover to some units who are likely to receive helicopter attacks the use of MANPADs AA units mounted on highly flexible civilian vehicles is probably their best option, especially when considering how scarce those weapons are, also the distribution of a few men armed with MANPAD forming a triangle may let them cover bigger areas, but if this consists just in one MANPAD units without coordination with the other ones their efficency must be very low especially considering the very low fly and use of countermeasures by modern helicopters, what makes aircrafts even harder targets for the MANPADs.

While in theory mos of this material is probably near the front close to the expected areas to be attacked by enemy helicopters it is very likely that some important fixed objectives or even important persons of ISIS get a point AA defense protection against possible raids of the Western Special Forces who will normally employ helicopters to go at the back door of ISIS letting those helicopters relatively exposed to this kind of systems.

In the other hand while a ZSU-23-4 vehicle could be relatively effective at close range defense if it is not able to use its radar it is nothing else than a self-propelled ZSU-23-2 and as happens with heavier AA systems ISIS has not been able to operate those radars.

Since the very first moment was obvious for everyone that ISIS wasn’t going to be able to defeat an air force but below that it is true that they have been able to shoot down a few helicopters.

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This modern Iraqi Mi-35M was destroyed by an ISIS FN-6 MANPAD

Evolution: The egg wants to be a condor

While the first archaic origins of ISIS are even before 2003 it was after the US invasion of Iraq when the group grew up, especially since Al-Zarqawi took its lead until he was killed on 2006, during that time Al Qaeda Iraq, as they were known, adopted extremely violent methods and at a certian degree the way of think of that epoch  has influenced the current ISIS lack of diplomacy derived from their radical think and actions.

Around 2011 the organization was badly wounded so they decided to begin a new “policy” based on attack prisions to liberate religious extremists and recruit them fot the group, later they also took advantage of the Syrian Civil War that had started on 2011 it is possible that during the first moments they acted as a moderate group to get financial and material support something that worked for some time.

But during 2013 the group took off his mask and occupied Raqqa and a big part of East Syria by expulsing the rebels and the Kurdish and again using very violent methods, this provided them with a huge amount of material, territory and population, at this point the true Islamic Caliphate was bornt, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 when ISIS made use of their penetration among Iraqi sunnies to hugely defeat the Iraqi Army around Mosul, a victory that was related to the sunnie disenchantment with the sectarian shia politics from Baghdag and an excellent use of psychology during the battles by ISIS.

When the victory over Mosul was completed ISIS was in full expansion of its power, its territories and above all their army.

They sewed a new army in a brief period of time, while it was still based in light infantry and guerrilla material and philosophy they get huge amounts of APCs, IFVs artillery and tanks what lead to the creation of the first armored and mechanized units, birefly they captured the next heavy material:

  • Artillery: D-30, M198, D-74, D-44, D-20 guns
  • Tanks: Their core is comprised by T-54/55 and Type 69 (a Chinese copy of the last) while also a few T-62s and T-72s are part of their forces, they also captured M1A1 Abrams, M-60Ts and Leopard 2A4s but they decided to destroy them because of their complexity and other reasons.
  • APC: BTR-80s, MT-LBs, M-113s, M117s, Humvees, MRAPs
  • IFV: BMP-1s

Apart from that they also captured huge numbers of personal equipment, ammunitions and light weapons, including mortars, ATGMs and recoilless rifles.

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ISIS MT-LB and M-113 both APCs used by the group in Iraq

This new DIY combined arms force comprised some conventional artillery, tanks, APCs, survelliance drones, guerrilla motorized infantry units using technicals… While for example a typical T-55 is an outdated tank with a relatively bad armor unable to resist most of the AT weapons on the battlefield they still offer protection against most of the weapons. For example the Kurdish weapons available to penetrate a T-55 would be just their RPGs, their few ATGMs and their recoilless rifles.

The low availability of those AT weapons and the lack of training and experience on their use led to easy ISIL victories by even using outdated tactics from WWII, also the combination of tanks as rams along with the technicals to provide fire support and the dismounted infantry to assault positions was a strong capable force for the Syrian standards.

At that time the violent ISIS methods provoked an international response that led to rearm the Iraqi army, send Western forces and suit a strong air coalition able to make a lot of damage to ISIS, from the military point of view the violent ISIS methods provided them with some advantages and disadvantages:

  • Advantages: it gave them international fame and in terms of radical sunnism it means that they became the beacon for the yihadis around the world and their supporters, also when their enemies were not surrounded they tended to runaway in certain situations thanks to the psychological impact of the very violent ISIS actions spreaded by their excellent propaganda media and the local support of part of the population.
  • Disadvantages: all of those advantages gave them fast victories but it also meant that when a force was completely surrounded or it was composed of non-arab or non-sunnie groups they tend to fight fiercely making ISIS advance much harder thanks to their pitiless diplomacy. Also their declarations and acts activated a strong international response that ultimately was vital to defeat ISIS, of course the main element was the air coalition leaded by USA that was able to provide tactical support to Kurdish and Iraqis on the ground and even do damage in the deep of ISIS structure. Also they even get some unnecessary enemies among radical sunnie groups with whom they could have get agreements.

When this final step happened the pressure from the air coalition but also from the SyAF and the RuAF forced them to adapt to a new kind of warfare where they were been continuously harassed from above and so the use of their new hardware was more difficult and required more caution decreasing its effectiveness forcing them to adopt new tricks and tactics.

When ISIS arrived to Syria it was an Iraqi group with around 2.000 fighters, but one year later they controlled a big part of Syria and Iraq with a few tens of thousands of troops and plenty of heavy material, while explain this growth is difficult we think that some reasons are related to the calling effect of their victories among local populations and a intelligent diplomacy towards yihadi groups both from outside and inside Syria and Iraq what ultimately allowed to the creation of a big army in a short period of time able to defend very distant fronts against multiple enemies.

The individuals

VBIEDs

The suicide bomb vehicles are used as a second artillery to produce a first shock before the main echelon assaults the position or as a ram against an entrenched force or a strong point, but the suicide drivers are a relatively expensive and limited weapon on hands of ISIS and so they are probably assigned to a unit depending on its mission and with a pre-stressed amount of VBIEDs at disposal giving the field commander a silver bullet to be used during the critical moments of the battle.

The experience of ISIS with VBIEDs was gathered during the insurgency against USA but those VBIEDs where relatively unpowerful and badly protected in comparison with the threat that we are facing now.

There is probably a certain high degree of centralization to on one hand recruit, brainwash and test suicide drivers and on the other hand design the vehicle to be used and the explosives to fill it.

A typical VBIED would be a chevy with a few hundred kilograms of payload from wich a part is deviated to add armored plates to the vehicle and so protect it from the weaponry that the enemies of ISIS are going to use desperately and in mass against it, this extra protection along with a relatively high speed (probably superior to 100 km/h) make these artifacts a big threat on the battlefield.

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In comparison to Iraqi insurgency VBIEDs a typical ISIS VBIED is better protected, has less explosive payload but a bigger shrapnel effect thanks to the armor, but in the end it largely depends on the DIY deisgn
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The effects of a VBIED explosion are huge, on this image we can even appreciate the expansive wave

Artillery

Most units from ISIS have mortars and at a certain degree other types of DIY artillery with a low accuracy but with some level of effectiveness when used in mass.

Conventional artillery is not very common and normally it is just seen on the main offensives as a support force along with mortars, although the degree of ability to manage the artillery pieces may vary a lot between different units.

The artillery tends to be used in the same way as VBIEDs to produce a shock before the first assault or even to pound enemy positions especially to defeat some enemy resistance that may slow the main axis of advance or weak fortified positions. They have the problem that most of their pieces are not self-propelled and so they can’t follow the assaulting force at great distances because they are very exposed to enemy aircraft while being towed through the roads.

The best piece of the artillery parque of ISIS probably is the M198 155 mm US howitzer a very accurate gun able to provide a deadly firepower, but the most used piece is by far the Soviet designed D-30 light howitzer, a 122 mm gun relatively easy to manually operate and with a relative light weight perfect to be transported and even hidden from air coalition jets, also its low weight makes it suitable to be installed on platforms such as trucks meaning that ISIS has self-propelled artillery, however a civilian truck is not well suited for pieces like this and so their performance is relatively bad in comparison with military dedicated SPHs.

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ISIS captured M198 gun
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ISIS firing a M198 howitzer captured from the Iraqi army

While conventional artillery is assigned to units depending on ther mission and are probably part of fully dedicated artillery units it is very likely that most of the ISIS units have at least an organic mortar support group or something close to it but still it is dubious the level of  ammunition availability for this kind of weapons with high rates of ammunition expenditure.

The mortars mainly comprise they typical 81 and 120 mm calibers and as we have already told looks like every ISIS unit with certain size has its own support group based on mortars, a deadly weapon if its is well managed.

Drones

Apart from propaganda the main use of drones by ISIS has been to recognize the terrain before the offensive and probably to correct the artillery fire, so we have seen a lot of times how unarmed ISIS drones were shoot down, this is because they were doing survelliance missions a very useful tool for the ISIS military planners.

The appearance of ISIS armed drones is quite recent and as it could be consider by some as a mere psychological weapon in my opinion is just another weapon with a big psychological impact but also with some level of capacity to help ISIS wear out its enemies by its massive use and with an increasing level of menace, especially to unarmored vehicles transporting ammunition or uncovered infantry in the open.

We are not sure about their way of use but we think that it could be a mix of direct support assigned to a unit or also they act as lonely hunters looking for opportunity victims close to an area of operations limited by its autonomy.

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What is sure is that they have been trained to choose their objectives because in our opinion they are looking for open roofs on the vehicles, this is becuase their main aerial bomb is based on a 40 mm grenade with a kill ratius of 5 metres and a very small penetration capacity, so the best way to use it consist on hit somewhere open with a lot of explosives on it, like Humvees  but also tanks with the hatch open, a tactic that in spite of be quite homely  has proved effective and at a low degree can be considered as another anti armor ISIS weapon.

Also it has some advantages like the low cost of civilian drones and the operators training, and also the cheap ammunition used of course if they face EW equipment they have no chance, but an even bigger force of drones might be the backbone of a low-cost terrorist air force that must not be underestimated.

Snipers, sharpshooters and designated marksmans

The use of snipers (or similar ones) by Iraqi insurgency groups is not new, when they were facing the West superior firepower most tactics shifted to hit & run because it denied the Western to make use of their superior firepower by calling air support and so between these hit and run tactics the sniper played an important role as it was able to do deadly shots from the distance and stay undiscovered.

Generally speaking some of the most common long range rifles on ISIS hands are the U.S M24 using a 7,62 x 51 mm cartridge, the Mosin Nagant using a 7,62 x 54 R cartridge and the king of the popularity, the mythical SVD Dragunov or its foreign copies.

As an idea of their potential the SVD series are accurate enough at around 700 to 800 metres on hands of experienced snipers and with a powerful scope magnification.

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ISIS sniper unit aremd with different versions of the Russian SVD rifle

Snipers are assigned to the units more as sharpshooters than as snipers to support the forces during the attack or for attrition tactics along with IEDs or so inside urban environments.

A very typical combo is the usage of snipers along with IEDs in abandoned towns, for example when ISIS forces left Sinjar to the Kurdish they let it filled with booby traps and a few snipers to produce some more casualities to their enemies a very efficient cost/effective way to deny the complete control of some area to the enemy and make him divert some sources to it.

Also it must be said that the camouflage knowledge of the main part of the ISIS snipers is quite basic being reduced to some mimicry, also a lot of times they act as anti light armor by using high caliber sniper rifles like the Sayyad-2 able to penetrate Humvees, M117s, M-113s and other light armored vehicles.

Technicals & DIY vehicles

Technicals or as we can call them “gunneds” essentially are civilian SUVs or trucks with a weapon mounted at its back for direct fire support, normally those weapons have no plating and they usually mount the next weapons:

  • MMGs and assault rifles: sometimes on some vehicles they add firing ports to let the troops inside open fire with its light weaponry, a good improvement while doing mounted attacks.
  • HMGs: DShKM 12,7 mm, and KPV, ZPU-2 or ZPU-4 of 14,5 mm
  • AA guns: ZU-23-2 double automatic gun of 23 mm, 57 mm S-60 guns on trucks and sometimes even 37 mm M1939 guns or their Chinese copies.
  • Recoilless rifles: this is not a common upgrade but when it exists normally uses a U.S M40 of 105 mm mounted on a jeep, this upgrade means a lot because it is thought to be used as a tank hunter by fastly moving to a position an effective tactic against badly trained tank crews.

But sometimes they directly design absolutely new and huge vehicles that I call gunned castles which add a lot of bulletproof plates and a few levels with HMGs mounted on them what creates very strange combinations that remind us to some WWI vehicles. Their objective is to safely transport as much fighters as possible while at the same time those vehicles provide a great suppressive fire in all directions, something vital during frontal attacks on a plain.

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Look at this monstrosity, T-72 chassis, cage armor, two levels, one turret, two HMGs, one DShKM (12,7) and one KPV (14,5)

In the end we can say that gunneds are the IFVs of the poor and because they are put on good platforms like civilian Toyota pick ups they have a good mobility, a good cross country ability, a low logistic footprint and a high reliability, something vital in combat situations.

Chemical warfare

From all of the abilities deployed by ISIS on the battlefield the more complex at the moment by far is the use of chemical weapons in limited amounts, while we are not sure if it has been done by trained fighters or by a grave recklessness this is a worrisome issue.

While the use of chemical agents by ISIS has been limited unfortunatelty we can not say that it has been anecdotic nor ineffective.

Most likely all agents came from captured Syrian and Iraq installations where those weapons were already produced and storaged.

But chemical weapons have several things to be known  and considered  before use them, like direction and speed of the wind, humidity, concentrations needed of the agent to both incapacitate or kill, the use of the precursor substances from the binary system and the dispersion vehicle/weapon to be used what is not an easy ability for an originally guerrilla group.

The ability of ISIS to produce operative chemical weapons is very unlikely so their capacity on this field is closely related to the amount of ready to use ammunitions captured in Syria and Iraq and the level of availability of the dispersion vehicles.

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Black circles mean places where documented ISIS chemical attacks have been confirmed

If we take a look at IHS map where 52 confirmed chemical attacks by ISIS have been documented we can see that most of them have taken place against Kurdish both from Iraq and Syria, in our opinion this could be related to a correct ISIS think about the lower readiness of Kurdish against this kind of weapons especially because in theory they haven’t get NBC equipment and training so they are very exposed to gases. Also the use of the agents tends to be more psychological than tactical.

At the moment the degree of mortality reached suggests the use of some common chemical agents like the sarin, the chlorine or the mustard gas, the three present in the Syrian inventory, but fortunately none of those is one of the “top tier” gases of the Syrian government which are the tabun and the VX. From those agents on hands of ISIS the sarin is by far the most powerful.

Training

Of couse the different weapons of ISIS may require different trainings but above all a light infantry training is probably the one that ISIS has been mainly providing, this comprises the use of assault rifles, machine guns, hand grenades, RPGs, basics about movements, fire and maneuver, camouflage, orientation, close combat, basic field fortifications…

Some normal units probably get a specialized training about ATGMs, artillery, snipers, MANPADs, mortars, recoilless rifles and in certain occasions about armored vehicles.

A big part of ISIS comprising experienced yihadis do not need training and also a big part of the local militias supporting them are badly equiped and not very trustable so they probably don’t receive a good preparation.

Finally the core of their recently erected force comes from people and volunteers recruited inside and outside the Caliphate, then they are probably classified, most of them have no military experience but a few may have done the military service or even have served in Syrian or Iraqi army and so they could have very valuable experience as mechanized infantry, light infantry or tanks, if so they may receive new specific training and been sent to those especial units.

It is very likely that most of the light infantry training and especially that locally recruited is trained at its own Wilayat to take advantage of their known of the terrain, society and climate, but this arises the question about their training standards.

We have seen how pupils from ISIS held territory get some ISIS-edited books, so if it has happen at the educational level it is very likely that it has also happened at the military level and so they have produce their own brief and adaptative military manuals for the training camps and their instructors.

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ISIS edited English book for their pupils

Unfortunately we don’t have much information about ISIS training and especially about their local recruiting system, their training philosophy or the duration of the instruction phase.

Deductions about their military organization

The main civilian administrative unit of ISIS is the governorate (Wilayat) with a governor and his subordinates and advisors.

The growth of ISIS was too large and too fast, especially in the case of  Syria where they were not as present as in Iraq before 2013, their fast evolution adding groups of globalist yihadis, Chechens, Iraqis and Syrians in both scenaries with huge fronts comprising deserts and towns, desertic and mediterranean climate, and been  facing very different threats including Iraqi Kurdish, Syrian Kurdish, rebels from Syria, Turkish supported forces, SAA, Iranian militias etc could not have been done without a great level of decentralization, but the problem arrives when we try to decide what is the true level of military decentralization.

Let’s take the defense of Al-Bab as an example, was it just a defense organized by the corresponding Wilayat or there was a declared  theatre of operations charged to one commander independent from the Wilayat? In our opinion the tactical defense in normal situations is mainly responsability of a Wilayat and its commander by providing most of the resources needed to successfully accomplish the mision, while there must be a certain degree of coordination with the Central HQ to apply for new resources and some big strategic or operational operations are prepared by the Central HQ that sends specific elite units and commanders to the area.

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Outdated map of ISIS Wilayats

There could be a high level of central control over some especial units like tanks, conventional artillery, suicides, drones, highly experienced fighters from outside or MANPADs to be provided at critical moments. At first look we may think that with the increasing pressure of air supremacy the movements may have get more difficult and so the move of fighters and material from the Central HQs in Mosul or Raqqa at distant places is very risky, but this is probably mitigated by placing the bases and training camps near the most likely operational theatres, by this way the Central HQ just would need to give the orders and the especial units would be relatively close to their destinations and so the possibility of been caught by enemy aircraft largely decreases.

Also it is very likely that apart from the political orders and some basic military instructions the autonomy about planning and acting in the battlefield is very high and especially in everything referred to warfare material, for example the Chechens units probably retain a certain degree of autonomy in the battlefield and they buy or get their own weapons from loot, black market or ISIS arsenals at their will.

Finally ISIS presents us a very monolithic and solid image but would be interesting to know how the hierarchy works among different human military groups like Chechens, tribes, Syrians or Iraqis because the existance of so much differences among those groups that sometimes are even lobbies inside ISIS can make the Caliphate much splitted than we actually think.


I would like to especially thanks to Historico for his excellent article about the use of tanks by ISIS and also to Purple Olvie for his excellent work about ISIS VBIEDs and to Oryx for his nice cover of some ISIS battles in its blog.

You can help me to do more articles by donating me some money via paypal here.

If you want to contact me for questions or to write an article for you, you can contact me on minstertipo@gmail.com orat my Twitter account @MinsterTX.

Made on the Caliphate Attack Drones: Brief Analysis of the Threat

Along 2016 and 2017 have emerged images and videos showing us an exponential increasing use of drones as attack platforms by ISIS and some rebel groups in Syria and Irak, on this article we are going to treat the evolution we have been able to see in their use their capabilities and the projectiles designed by Islamic State.

At first drones were used just for propaganda to record images from above, lately they were used for reconnaissance and intelligence and finally following the logical development  ISIS used them on ground attack role.

How threaty they are?: Knowing their secret weapon

At first ISIS used them as SVBIEDs but with not a very high effectiveness, for example on the New York Times on October 2016 was stated: “Of the three known drone attacks in Iraq, only the one involving the Kurdish soldiers caused casualties. “The explosive device inside was disguised as a battery — there was a very small amount of explosives in it, but it was enough to go off and kill them[…]”.

The relatively low degree of effectiveness is related to the relatively cheap series of drones available for ISIS and their small payload capacity.

Normally civilian drones are designed for especific missions and most of them are not designed to wear big payloads as ISIS needs, still they offer a safety space between the capability of the engines and its total weight letting ISIS install relatively small explosives and devices on them.

On December 2016 in the besieged city of Deir ez Zor the pro-Assad forces were able to down two ISIS drones by presumably using some kind of electronic warfare equipment, both drones can be seen on the images below.

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Both are civilian drones, the first uses a PG-7V and the second an improved PG-7VM warhead. These ones were rocket-propelled grenades originally intended to be fired from the Soviet rocket launcher  RPG-7  with multipurpose capability, and they are able to penetrate more than 20 cm of armor (RHA) or to roughly create an explosion like that of a hand grenade but more powerful.

A PG-7 warhead alone would weight around 1 kg but it would also need a dropping mechanism if it is a tactical support drone, or even a phone or a special device to make the SVBIED exploit at the desired moment unleast the plan is launch the drone straight to the target and make the impact fuze exploit, what could be a difficult task.

While we are not sure if those drones were intended to be SVBIEDs or to be support attack drones they were using typical war material from the region adapted to their new purpose, in spite of use especially designed projectiles.

On November 2016 Conflict Armament Research documented some interesting DIY ” Made in the Caliphate” mortar round fashion artifacts, as can be seen on the images below.

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We have calculate that the lenght and the radius of the cylinder containing the explosive must be 4,5 and 1,85 cm approximately

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The projectile is formed by five elements: (5) The plastic tail designed to gain stability and so accuracy during the flight (4) The main part of the body is united to the tail and made of the same plastic, it is cylindical and inside (3) it is the manufactured explosive  mixture, (1) then it is the pin point steel plain impact fuze and (2)  it also has an ingenious safety system by using a pin that needs to be removed to get the projectile armed.

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Behind these artifacts there is a much bigger project that includes design, production, know-how and testing, what tells us a lot about ISIS State-like capabilities, but still if we have a closer look to some of them we will see that they are not mass pruced but manufactured because their lines are not equal and perfect on every product, we may call this kind of middle way between DIY and industrial product a “DIY/2”.

We have been able to make a rough estimation of the explosive inside the projectiles on the images above, and they have a volume of 40 to 70 cm3 to be filled with an ISIS produced DIY/2 explosive mix with less power than a military one.

Conflict Amamente Research show us on its excellent document  that ISIS has been able to produce plastic fuzes so, why do not use those on these artifacts?. In my opinion when the projectile is falling it is good for the accuracy that most of the weight is on the nose where the fuze is and so if the projectile is so light a fuze composed of steel has a great advantage over a plastic one providing the desired “nose-falling” effect.

Also some may think that this looks like a DIY/2 mortar round, but this can not be true because the “projection cartridge” (as we call it in Spanish) needed to fire a mortar round would destroy the whole projectile if it was made of plastic.

Finally if we compare the ISIS designed projectiles with the adapted PG-7s we will find out that for every PG-7 at least 3 ISIS projectiles probably can be carried by a drone, but to attack an armored vehicle, even like a humvee, just a PG-7 can be effective so If I were a terrorist I would use PG-7s against highly protected targets while ISIS projectiles against enemy exposed infantry or unprotected vehicles. In the end even a M1 Abrams hasn’t got protection enough on the roof to deal with a PG-7.

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Soviet RPG-7 along with a PG-7V (green) and a PG-7VM (black) both used on ISIS drones and very popular warheads in the world

But here comes the other question: Accuracy.

These drones can fly very high but if it is too high they can loose a lot of autonomy and also their payload is very low so there is no possibility to install even some kind of primitive aim device so everything must be done literally by the eye of the operator. If conditions are good without wind nor rain and the altitude is low, I would say no more than 100 metres, a well trained operator might be able to calculate with some precision the dropping, but if we are speaking of a PG-7 warhead not designed to fall from the sky it is very probable that the operator needs to send the drone as a SVBIED straight to the target in order to let the fuze of the PG-7 impact on the target.

Let’s have a closer look to another recently released ISIS video, on this one we see another civilian drone, some claimed that it was one called “X8 Skywalker” while I don’t think it is this model probably they are quite similar products, so for example there is a video on Youtube of a flying X8 that goes extreme and flies at an altitude of 5.341 metres!. Also its payload can be as much as 2 kg, and its price is around 180$ to 250$. This could be considered as a representative example for a typical ISIS  drone.

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View from the camera of a X8 drone
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ISIS drone with two small bombs, it is possible that they were inert and were used just to record the propagandistic part of the video

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On the images above we see more interesting projectiles, in this case the drone mounts two artifacts, one per wing, and they are composed by a similar tail of that of the projectile treated above.

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ISIS produced projectile being dropped

In the case of the artifact used on the attack while we can’t know its size I would say that it has a similar white plastic tail as other ISIS designs while in this case it is coupled with what looks like a 40 mm grenade typical from Western grenade launchers or even a OG-7V HE-Fragmentation warhead designed for RPG-7s.

 

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The ISIS projectile may use a typical Western grenade like one on this image. A normal HE  40 mm grenade has a weight of around 0,25 kg and a kill radius of 5 metres and so is ideally suited for the low payload capacity of a civilian drone

Also when this artifact exploits just at a  few metres from a group of 5 men it produces minor injuries to two of them while heavy injuries to the other three, and this with a relatively accurate attack.

If we do a comparison, what could be the cost of an ISIS SVBIED including car, oil, the man, the explosives and the typical add on armour?. Just the car should cost several times the drone, but still both are different weapons meant for different situations. For example in my opinion every unit of ground based VBIEDs can be a very powerful tactical weapon while a few drones can be useful for a squad or a company of ISIS but not for a whole offensive, and even more if the enemy is digged in fortified areas.

Would also be interesting to see if ISIS includes thermal or infared cameras on its drones, what could be an interesting option for them.

Also I know that this is speculation, but what about the use of big formations of like 20 drones or so, a true unmanned air force ideally suited for non-state actors, maybe the combination of something we may call mini-carpet-drone-bombings could be effective in some situations, or the use of small wings of drones to attack objectives in succession looking if the first drone has succeed and sending another if not, like a true air force does. If this hasn’t happen yet it could be for two reasons: The less important is that the drones, specially those with a certain size are available for ISIS just in limited quantities, but the most important is that they would need a real training program of drone operators, what must be the real challenge for non-state actors. The money should not be an issue as far as buy for example 100 X8s might cost, going extreme, as much as 40.000$ what isn’t a problem for an organization able to earn billions of dollars every year.

I must also say that during the propagandistic video a drone was recording the other drone so it is possible that ISIS has some ability operating at least small groups of drones simultaneously.

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It is obvious that the drone on the image was recorded by another drone

Finally I would like to say that new imaginative and unpredictable tactics using bigger drones formations could be expected if ISIS has time enough.

They are vulnerable

Teach the ground soldiers to fire at the drones could be okay if they are able to mass enough muzzles firing and there is no risk of betray their positions to other ISIS weapons like mortars, but still it is a relatively costly measure. From my point of view the best way to deal with them would be to make troops aware of the threat and so survey the sky and hide when they see or hear something.

Finally as equipment especially designed to combat drones we should not forget that these are civilian drones with badly protected links between the machine and the operator and so they are very vulnerable to minimum electronic warfare countermeasures so apart from specialized EW units I think that the use of relatively cheap devices designed to inhibit the link between the operator and the machine could be enough to effectively deal with the increasing threat that apparently drones possess on the hybrid battlefield.

Las próximas campañas de Assad

21/09/2016

Resulta obvio tras el último costoso intento de rebelde por mantener abierta la entrada a Alepo que el EAS posee a día de hoy la iniciativa estratégica, lo que no quita para que los rebeldes aún posean capacidad de iniciativa táctica.

Sin perder lo anteriormente dicho de vista vamos a tratar de prever donde se materializará a corto, medio plazo y largo plazo la capacidad de iniciativa estratégica gubernamental en Siria.


Opción I – Campaña contra Idlib

Es de sobra sabido que los rebeldes concentran la mayor parte de su territorio y fuerzas entre la provincia de Idlib y el oeste de la provincia de Alepo, por todo ello es un objetivo estratégico obvio para el Ejército Árabe Sirio (EAS en adelante).

Idlib es importante porque al hacer frontera con Turquía permite a los rebeldes obtener adiestramiento y material, bien mediante el mercado negro, bien gracias al apoyo del estado turco. Sin embargo el material que llega a los rebeldes debe casi obligatoriamente atravesar el vital punto fronterizo de Qasr al Banat del que parte la vital carretera siria M45 y que es el cuello de botella de todo lo enviado por tierra desde Turquía a Idlib. Por todo lo anterior es obvio que en última instancia la derrota de los rebeldes en Idlib pasa por controlar este lugar.

Ahora bien, existen varias fórmulas para llegar a la derrota rebelde de Idlib.

Plan A

Un avance desde el sur de la provincia de Alepo, en Hader hacia el área asediada entorno a Kafarya, que está situada junto a la ciudad y capital que es Idlib, sería un movimiento similar al realizado cuando se utilizó Nubl y Zahra como trampolín para facilitar rodear el norte de Alepo ciudad.

Una vez hecho esto el EAS podría entretenerse en combatir por la ciudad de Idlib o en asegurar los flancos para continuar avanzando por la carretera M45 hasta alcanzar el puesto fronterizo de Qasr al Banat. Es de sobra conocida la obsesión del régimen por controlar las grandes ciudades y capitales de Siria y es por ello previsible que el avance se detuviera hasta que la ciudad de Idlib cayera al menos parcialmente en manos oficialistas.

Además una gran parte de este plan se ejecutaría sobre terreno llano, lo que facilitaría enormemente el uso de la potencia de fuego oficialista para avanzar.

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Fase 1: levantar asedio sobre el área de Kafrayah y conquistar Idlib ciudad. Fase 2: tomar el paso fronterizo de Qasr al Banat

Plan B

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Posible operación en pinza sobre Abu Duhur

Consistiría en por un lado realizar un ataque desde el sur de la provincia de Alepo, desde la localidad de Saibiyah y por otro un segundo ataque desde el norte de la provincia de Hama,desde la localidad de Qarah, ambos avances apuntando a Abu Duhur, la que una vez controlada permitiría cercar a una cantidad ingente de tropas rebeldes.

Además de nuevo estamos ante un plan que se desarrollaría en terreno llano que debería ofrecer grandes ventajas a los gubernamentales y su susodicha potencia de fuego.

Dentro de este plan, si existieran fuerzas suficientes cabrían acciones secundarias en dirección al área sitiada entorno a Kafarya, esta última podría convertirse en el último trampolín para saltar hacia Qasr al Banat y sentenciar así a los rebeldes en Idlib.

A diferencia de otros planes este contemplaría una acción más limitada que no tendría como objetivo directo alcanzar Qasr al Banat, sino recuperar mucho territorio y cercar a grandes cantidades de fuerzas rebeldes, además un efecto indirecto y muy beneficioso del mismo sería que ayudaría al régimen a asegurar sus acosadas rutas de suministros al sur de Alepo.

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Ataque desde dos direcciones, Alepo (norte) y Hama (sur) para tomar Abu Duhur y así rodear el territorio rebelde al este de esta localidad

 

Plan C

Otra opción sería iniciar un gran avance desde el sur de la ciudad de Alepo en línea recta siguiendo la carretera 62 hacia el paso fronterizo, pero tiene varios inconvenientes, sobretodo el terreno montañoso que impediría a los oficialistas explotar al máximo su potencia de fuego y sus superiores medios blindados.

Además las posibilidades de infiltración que este tipo de escenario ofrecería a los rebeldes serían demasiado grandes gracias a las facilidades que ofrece su complicada orografía para el defensor.

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Se aprecia lo intrincado de la orografía del terreno. Consistiría en seguir la carretera 62 y un pequeño tramo de la M45

Elementos comunes 

  • Apoyo kurdo: con los sucesos de Hasakah y el mayor acercamiento entre Turquía y Assad el apoyo kurdo al régimen parece más lejano, sin embargo no debe ser descartado, ya que los kurdos se encuentran a menos de 7,5 kmtrs. de Qasr al Banat y con una fuerza suficientemente grande deberían ser capaces de hacerse con este punto en apenas unas horas, y aunque no fuera así su mera presión o amenaza mantendría ocupadas a importantes fuerzas rebeldes
  • Las carreteras M4 y M5 por ser las vías por las que fluye el grueso de los suministros o movimientos de tropas rebeldes serán objetivos durante toda la guerra, ya que obligarían a que cualquier movimiento de hombres o material se tuviera que hacer dando rodeos y yendo por carreteras de menor calidad, lo que supondría una situación de desventaja estratégica al perder un tiempo extra precioso con cada movimiento, así como perder velocidad a la hora de reaccionar ante las ofensivas del gobierno
  • Localidades como Idlib, Kafarya, Abu Duhur, Jish Sughur, Maarat al-Numan, Saraqib o Al Atarib tendrán un predecible protagonismo en la campaña de Idlib, por su tamaño, por su valor estratégico como punto nodal de vías de comunicación o por su valor simbólico.
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Se aprecia como las carreteras M4 y M5 son vías de comunicación fundamentales para la provincia de Idlib

Opción II – Campaña del sur de Siria

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Nótense las numerosas y dispersas bolsas de resistencia rebelde en el sur de Siria

Si el régimen cuenta con las fuerzas necesarias para llevar a cabo ofensivas estratégicas es obvio que también cuenta con las fuerzas necesarias como para realizar una defensa efectiva de sus territorios.

Mientras Alepo no esté completamente en manos oficialistas existe una gran amenaza en la retaguardia y por tanto al margen de lugares concretos no sería necesario concentrar los esfuerzos del EAS en la probablemente bien defendida provincia de Idlib.

Por contra las energías podrían concentrarse en eliminar las numerosas bolsas de resistencia rebelde o de EI que encontramos en el sur de Siria, y en especial aquellas que rodean Damasco, como la del campo de Yarmuk, y los suburbios al noreste de la capital.

Además Assad podría concentrar sus fuerzas en las dos pequeñas y rebeldes provincias de Kuneitra y Daraa.

En general, todo el sur de Siria, a excepción de Damasco, Homs y los territorios colindantes con el Líbano, ha sido en general un escenario secundario con fuerzas militares de pequeño tamaño. A pesar de todo la cantidad de bolsas rebeldes es tan grande que un esfuerzo lento pero efectivo en erradicarlas podría ayudar a liberar fuerzas para futuras campañas contra EI o la provincia de Idlib.

La desventaja general de este plan es que implicaría una lucha prolongada en combates urbanos que siempre tienden a producir un gran desgaste al atacante.

Plan A

Una opción sería concentrarse en las bolsas más importantes entorno a Damasco, ya que son estas las que suponen a día de hoy una mayor amenaza para el régimen. Este plan consistiría en tomar esencialmente el área rebelde o de EI perteneciente al campo de Yarmuk y el área de suburbios al noreste de Alepo

Plan B

Esencialmente es una variante del anterior que además buscaría eliminar todos los focos de resistencia rebelde en el sur de Siria a excepción de los situados en las provincias de Deraa y Kuneitra que por contar con acceso a la frontera jordana e israelí no están rodeados y por tanto cuentan con posiciones teóricamente mejor defendidas.

Plan C

Un plan que tarde o temprano habrá de elaborarse es el de la conquista de las provincias de Deraa y Kuneitra, dichas provincias al contrario que la mayoría de las fuerzas rebeldes en el sur de Siria no están sitiadas lo que les permite recibir abastecimientos, y ocasionalmente entrenamiento. A esto hay que sumar la baja intensidad de los combates librados hasta ahora en la zona, lo que debería haber favorecido un alto grado de fortificación rebelde en la zona, lo que obviamente haría costoso cualquier ataque.

La clave de la resistencia rebelde en la zona está en la ciudad de Deraa, capital de la provincia a la que da nombre, y urbe a día de hoy controlada a partes iguales por rebeldes y EAS.

Deraa es clave para controlar parte de la importante carretera M5 que se bifurca en dos para ir a la frontera de Jordania y de Israel. Mantener abiertos ambos puestos fronterizos es de vital importancia para los rebeldes.


Opción III – Campaña contra EI

Desde 2015 hasta 2016 la pérdida de terreno por parte de EI ha sido palpable, este grupo controla un amplio territorio que tarde o temprano habrá de caer, y quien gane la competición por los pedazos de EI obtendrá una importante ventaja estratégica.

A pesar de todo la mayor parte del retroceso del califato en Siria ha sido provocado por los kurdos, sin embargo desde el inicio de la operación “Escudo del Éufrates” por parte de Turquía, y la aparición de grupos del ELS al norte de las posiciones kurdas los esfuerzos kurdos ya no se podrán volcar con la misma intensidad en combatir a Daesh, por lo que iniciar una campaña contra el mismo ya no resulta una opción tan atractiva para el régimen.

La lucha contra EI ha demostrado ser muy dura en los combates librados por Palmira y la carretera Ithriyah-Tabqa, y eso que dichos avances se realizaron a la vez que se producían ofensivas de las YPG contra EI. Esto significa que para el gobierno sería muy difícil iniciar una gran campaña contra EI mientras a sus espaldas aún permanezcan fuerzas importantes rebeldes que distraigan a grandes cantidades de tropas oficialistas.

No obstante una vez cayeran los principales focos rebeldes, sobretodo en la provincia de Idlib esta campaña contra EI sería muy probable.

Plan

OP3.png
El objetivo final sería Raqqah por su enorme valor simbólico

En principio el objetivo sería dominar la rivera del Éufrates, con las ciudades de Raqqah, Deir ez Zor y Tabqah como objetivos estratégicos finales. De esta forma el principal eje de avance debería ser el mismo que el usado en la desastrosa operación de Tabqah que culminó en fracaso a finales de junio de 2016.

Así en una primera fase se avanzaría sobre la carretera Ithriyah-Tabqa, esta vez eso sí con mayores fuerzas que cubran los flancos del avance para evitar una operación de pinza por parte de EI, así como contando con un mayor apoyo aéreo. En una segunda fase el objetivo sería tomar Raqqah partiendo desde Tabqah.

Simultáneamente un eje secundario de avance partiría desde Palmira (Tadmur) en dirección a Deir ez Zor, dicho dirección favorecería embolsar o hacer huir a la mayor parte de las fuerzas de EI en el sur de Siria. Entretanto podría reforzarse a la guarnición de Deir ez Zor por vía aérea para que presionara en tres posible direcciones.

  • Dirección oeste: destinada a hacer un movimiento para rodear Raqqah con las fuerzas procedentes de Deir ez Zor desde el este y las de Tabqah desde el oeste, si las fuerzas oficialistas logran rodear completamente Raqqah podrán hacerse completamente con la gloria de la victoria sobre la capital de EI lo que haría que ganaran legitimación a nivel internacional
  • Dirección este: teniendo en cuenta que las fuerzas de EI seguramente se concentraran entrono a Raqqah, y que el Nuevo Ejército Sirio estaría en posición de atacar a las débiles guarniciones al este de Deir ez Zor podría ser interesante para el EAS hacerse con todo el territorio posible antes de un encontronazo con el NSA.
  • Dirección sur: para agilizar el avance iniciado desde Palmira hacia Deir ez Zor se podría lanzar un ataque en la dirección sur

Por último aa actitud del NSA podría ser importante en esta campaña, ya que podría taponar la frontera Iraq-Siria en Al-Bukamal, impidiendo o facilitando la llegada o huida de fuerzas de EI a ambos lados de la frontera

¿Por qué al-Bukamal?

Read this article in English

Al-Bukamal es una ciudad siria situada en la rivera sur del río Éufrates junto a la frontera entre Iraq y Siria, se supone que en 2012 estaba poblada por algo más de 100.000 habitantes.

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al-Bukamal, primera ciudad siria tras cruzar la frontera iraquí

Toda el área situada entre el sureste de Deir ez Zor y el desierto del este de la provincia de Homs, por su poca población y su gran distancia respecto a las áreas más candentes de la guerra de Siria han hecho que esta zona no haya sufrido grandes combates, sino más bien pequeños raids o escaramuzas decisivas que han determinado quién controlaría la zona.

Desde finales de 2015 lleva operando en las áreas menos pobladas del desierto de las gobernaciones de Deir ez Zor y Homs un grupo llamado NSA (Nuevo Ejército Sirio) un grupo apoyado, entrenado y armado por Jordania y Estados Unidos para enfrentarse a EI en estas áreas en las que hasta ahora no había encontrado gran contestación.

Desde el punto de vista operativo el NSA es una mezcla de tres elementos, fuerzas especiales, infantería ligera y fuerzas de milicia:

  • Realizan las misiones propias de las SF al llevar acabo raids nocutnos, golpes de mano, así como operaciones de reconocimiento que incluyen la posibilidad de solicitar apoyo aéreo o artillero
  • Tienen el entrenamiento propio de la infantería ligera, obviamente no tienen un entrenamiento de tanta calidad como el de las SF, pero sí se trata de infantería ligera diseñada para aprovechar su movilidad y flexibilidad en el desierto y de esta forma alcanzar sus objetivos aún enfrentándose a fuerzas superiores en número y medios
  • Son similares a casi cualquier fuerza de milicia de Siria en el sentido de que el grueso de su equipamiento lo compone armamento ligero, vehículos Toyota siendo lo más pesado que operan sistemas de ATGM o morteros de 120 mm.

Durante el 28 y 29 de junio de 2016 se produjo una escaramuza de corta duración entre elementos del NSA y de EI en los que el primero sufrió una pequeña derrota. Si tiene más interés en conocer la batalla le recomiendo el artículo de @RaoKumar.

Sin embargo lo que aquí nos interesa como reza el título del artículo es ¿por qué el NSA y sus patrocinadores eligieron concentrar sus más bien escasos recursos en al-Bukamal y no en cualquier otro lugar? ¿que importancia tiene dicha localidad?

En primer lugar al-Bukamal es la llave siria a la carretera N4 que recorre toda la rivera sur del Éufrates sirio desde la frontera con Iraq hasta el lago Assad, bañando a su paso las importantes ciudades de Deir ez Zor, Raqqa y Taqba, una zona por la que discurre la columna vertebral de Daesh.

Más aún en noviembre de 2015 los kurdos conquistaban la estratégica localidad de Sinjar, clave para controlar la carretera 47 que era la que permitía la comunicación directa entre las dos capitales de EI, Mosul, su capital en Iraq y Raqqah, su capital en Siria.

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De esta forma la comunicación entre Mosul y Raqqah pasó a  ser realizada a través de una vía mucho más larga siguiendo alguna de las carreteras que desde Mosúl se dirige hacia al sur y posteriormente se dirige al punto de paso en la frontera Iraq-Siria y ¡o sorpresa! justo al otro lado de la frontera entre Siria e Iraq nos encontramos con la ciudad de al-Bukamal.

La operación del NSA con toda probabilidad estaba dirigida a controlar el tráfico rodado entre las partes siria e iraquí del califato, poniendo así la guinda al pastel que comenzó a elaborarse en Sinjar.

Pero la importancia de este enclave no acaba ahí, ya que cuando Raqqah o Mosul caigan (y una lo hará ates que la otra) es probable que los esfuerzos pasen a concentrarse en la capital restante, y cuando por ejemplo los yihadistas procedentes de una supuesta Mosul conquistada quisieran ir a Siria ¿por donde pasarían?. Desde luego una de las posibilidades sería de nuevo al-Bukamal, lo que nos hace pensar que cuando se produzca una retirada de una de las partes del califato hacia la otra el NSA incluso con el apoyo de fuerzas especiales occidentales podría tratar de controlar esta estratégica localidad para “pescar” a cuantos terroristas en retirada se pueda.

Pero la importancia de al-Bukamal no acaba aquí.

En octubre de 2008 se produjo una operación por parte de la Task Force 17 de las fuerzas especiales en al-Sukariya, en el norte de al-Bukamal, en Siria (fuente). Allí las fuerzas especiales mataron a Abu Ghadiya, un “facilitador” para el paso de yihadistas desde Siria a Iraq para AQI (recordemos que Estado Islámico antes de serlo fue AQI).

El hecho anteriormente narrado no es más que una anécdota. Lo cierto es que había tres grandes rutas denominadas “caminos de ratas” que durante los años de la insurgencia iraquí contra EEUU eran usados por Al Qaeda para hacer llegar a combatientes voluntarios a través de los mentados caminos que pasaban por Siria y Jordania. Es probable que dichas rutas fueran utilizadas en general para llevar a cabo toda clase de actividades ilegales relacionadas con el contrabando, el mercado negro de armas y por supuesto los grupos insurgentes asentados en Iraq.

Y aquí es donde de nuevo entra en juego al-Bukamal, ya que con toda probabilidad no es un área desconocida para Daesh, que cuando operaba en la sombra como organización criminal probablemente mantuvo importantes intereses en el área. De nuevo, si los enemigos de EI en Iraq o Siria alcanzan la frontera EI probablemente no desaparecerá, sino que se reconvertirá en una fuerza insurgente de guerrilla que probablemente necesitará conservar una cierta infraestructura humana en ciudades fronterizas clave como al-Bukamal para poder mover dinero, armas, hombres y cualquier otra clase de medios, de ahí la importancia no sólo de gobernar, sino de controlar al-Bukamal para evitar esta clase de tráfico ilegal a uno y otro lado de la frontera.


Fuente principal:

Autor: Leigh Neville Título original: Special Forces: In the war on terror

Analyzing a nigh raid from ISIS

Introduction

In this article I will try to demonstrate the professionalism and thoroughness of the fast attacks of Islamic State through a very thorough analysis from a tactical point of view of one of the few videos shown us a full raid of this group against a small fortress guarded by the Iraqi army and probably in the Syria-Irak border.

The video that will be the base of this whole article is this and was published in early 2013. In particular the part I will analyze begins at 00:00:22 and ends at 00:03:12. I recommend taking a look before continuing reading.

Before anything must be said that the minimum Daesh combat unit called is called “Fassil” equivalent to a motorized squadron. It usually consists of three SUVs Toyota, one of which would be responsible for the logistics functions.

This type of unit would consist of about 10 men armed with assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers and hand grenades.

The plan

The operation seen in the the video is what in military terms is known as “surprise attack” or “nigh raid” (originally in Spanish “golpe de mano”) which is defined as the offensive action of limited scope in terms of both their objectives and the time available, and that is done by units of small size.

In this case the target is a fortress surrounded by an embankment that serves as a wall with a gatehouse cement, and two Humvees and a garrison of five to ten men.

The general principles applicable to an attack of this nature are three:

  • Surprise: keep to a minimum the warning and prevention of defenders until the assault by its very nature discovers himself
  • Fast: a unit of less than 10 men can not maintain a long struggle to achieve their goals so they are forced to win in the short term or retire before the defenders can get reinforcements
  • Violence: is essential to apply as highest intensity and firepower as possible in the short time to overwhelm the defenders and not give them time to organize the defense or the reinforcements

Then there are two prerequisites to properly prepare the surprise attack:

  • Observation: is to observe the customs of the garrison, their weaknesses and strengths, at what times there is less vigilance  etc
  • Recognition: requires stay closer to the position itself, check whether there can be no appreciable elements only by sight, such as mines, points camouflaged, trenches, the normal behavior of vigilant about cars passing on the road etc

Also in this particular attack several particular elements are noticeable:

  • Blinding: the jihadists approach on Toyota of “civil” type, it is not the typical technical  carrying a heavy weapon mounted. This is because by using that car probably they tried to go unnoticed until up to the fort, and in that sense they have been willing to give up the firepower that could provide one of those technicals with a mounted weapon
  • Lack of vigilance: much of the success of this attack is that defenders because of the lack of discipline or training did not maintain adequate guard so that this greatly facilitated the attack planning
  • Dawn: gives an idea of the thoroughness of the preparation of the attack that it was done at a time when the light seems closer ato the dawn or the noon. During those hours the human by nature tends to be more relaxed and with a lower level of alert

It is convenient to do an inventory of the material used by the attackers:

Two cars Toyota, with between 7 and 8 males, one of which is dedicated to recording the operation. The launch of what looks like an PG-7 rocket coming from an RPG-7 even that this weapon is not seen in all the video. They also carry a Russian PK machine gun and the other men use different versions of the Kalashnikov rifles saga. Finally they were carrying some type of homemade explosive as a hand grenade.

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DIY hand grenade used by the attackers

The RPG-7 could be very useful to produce a similar effect as that of artillery causing confusion and chaos. It could also be useful to knock out the Humvees or to destroy reinforced concrete emplacements as watchtowers.

The PK machine gun provides a volume of fire greater than any other weapon , albeit in an operation of such short distances such weapons result not so useful.

The Kalashnikov rifles in an assault on the distances of less than 20 meters are more than enough. Finally hand grenades used to clean positions where defenders can entrench.

I7.jpg
Translation: “Material of the Fassil that attacks the fort” 6x Kalashnikov saga rifles, 1x PK machine gun, 1x RPG-7, various hand grenades, 2x Toyota SUV, 8x terrorists from IS

The plan seems to be divided into three phases:

  1. Flank attack: the beginning of the video shows that each Toyota leaves a group. One goes to the left flank where it seems to be the main entrance, and the other goes to the right flank. From their respective positions both throwing grenades inside the fort
  2. Assault: when entering the complex itself and rushing inside the fort harboring Iraqi soldiers
  3. Looting, destruction and flight: these phases are not shown in the video but it is reasonable suppose them. This group certainly try to seize ammunition, weapons and generally anything that can be useful. What can not be taken would be destroyed and then they scape using a route previously established

The attack

Terrorists come into two SUVs Toyota. When they fall short of the objective the leader makes two strokes on the roof and the driver stops. Immediately begins a crossfire between the gatehouse guard and the attackers. But the fire of the attackers is far superior and kills or forces to retreat the guard.

Each car leaves a group that is against the right and left flank respectively.

I4.jpg
Translation: attack from the flanks, one from the right and one from the left

They throw what appear to be several homemade grenades and simultaneously fire a PG-7 rocket that goes high, at this time advocates are stunned, not knowing what happens or what the situation is, some may have been killed or injured as a result of homemade grenades. Moreover, each defender is in a different part of the fort so they are not able to coordinate the defense.

Also there is nobody inside the humvees.

I1
Image of the explosion of one of the hand grenades that were thrown in to the fort by the IS attackers

The jihadists rush into the fort where they just kill separately the defenders who strangely die without even a gun nearby.

One of the defenders had time to put on a bulletproof vest and approach a humvee, however there was killed and topped by jihadists.

The video ends shortly after and appreciated as part of the buildings inside the fort are burning, probably as a result of the fighting and the withdrawal of the attackers.

I6.jpg
Probably deliberately to withdraw the jihadists destroy anything that might be useful to their enemy and they can not carry with themselves

Analysis

The attack was perfectly executed, the surprise effect was achieved until they were at the height of the target. The speed have been given by the terrorists themselves by rushing in their actions, and violence has been provided both by the attack on two sides throwing hand grenades and Kalashnikovs used during the assault at close range.

On the moment before they have been near the fortress, just before the guard noticing what was going on the raiders  opened simultaneously and successively fire, which forced the guard to take refuge inside the pillbox, where he has surely been vulnerable to grenades.

They advocate not only had insufficient guard but it was very exposed position being next to the road without any kind of advanced surveillance post or barrier that forced the vehicle to stop.

In addition it is clear that they did not expect any kind of attack since if so it is presumably they would have had taken further measures and would be prevented. This unawareness also suggests a lack of intelligence on the ground that could warn of a possible terrorist strike in the area.

The fact that all defenders die without a weapon on their hands gives an idea about the shock effect caused by the rush. This is a good example of why violence and speed are the principles of a surprise attack.

Finally it should be remembered that the video was uploaded to YouTube on February 1, 2013, so we can assume that was recorded between late 2012 and early 2013. At that time IS was not IS, it was called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and did not control northern Iraq or northeastern Syria yet but they have already been able to very effectively attack an Iraqi army post  and record it.

Men doing the surprise attack must be of Iraqi nationality since on early 2013 IS had not yet been expanded and had not incorporated foreign groups of Syrians, Chechens or other, nations at least not on the scale of independent combat units.

It is curious that the video already has the watermark of one of the typical audiovisual production groups of IS as early as 2013, in fact to record the attack is demonstrating the great propagandist development and strategic vision from the point of communications they have and have had IS even before their greatest conquests.

I think that this video gives us a good idea about how IS performed and conducted its offensive from the tactical level to strategic using a deep observation and preparation and taking advantage of the weaknesses of their opponents.

Golpe de mano de Estado Islámico

Introducción

He hecho un vídeo sobre este mismo tema.

En este artículo voy a tratar de demostrar la profesionalidad y meticulosidad de los ataques rápidos de Estado Islámico mediante un análisis muy profundo desde el punto de vista táctico de uno de los pocos vídeos en que se nos muestra un golpe de mano completo de este grupo contra un pequeño fortín custodiado por el ejército iraquí y que probablemente se encontraba en la frontera con Siria.

El vídeo entorno al que girará todo este artículo es este y fue publicado a principios de 2013. En concreto la parte que yo voy a analizar comienza en el 00:00:22 y acaba en el 00:03:12. Os recomiendo echarle un vistazo antes de continuar la lectura.

Antes de nada cabe decir que la unidad mínima de combate de Daesh se llama “Fassil” que equivaldría a un escuadrón motorizado. Habitualmente está compuesto por tres todoterrenos Toyota de los que uno se encargaría de las funciones logísticas.

Este tipo de unidad se compondría de unos 10 hombres armados con rifles de asalto, ametralladoras, lanzacohetes y granadas de mano.

El plan

La operación del vídeo es lo que militarmente se conoce como “golpe de mano”, que se define como aquella acción ofensiva de alcance limitado tanto en cuanto a sus objetivos como en cuanto al tiempo disponible, y que se realiza por unidades de pequeño tamaño.

En este caso el objetivo es un fortín rodeado por un terraplén que hace las veces de muro, con una garita de cemento, y dos humvees, así como una guarnición de entre cinco y diez hombres.

Los principios generales aplicables a un ataque de estas características son tres:

  • Sorpresa: mantener al mínimo la alerta y prevención de los defensores hasta que el asalto por su propia naturaleza se descubra a si mismo
  • Rápido: una unidad de menos de 10 hombres no puede mantener una lucha larga por tanto debe alcanzar sus objetivos en el corto plazo o retirarse antes de que puedan llegar refuerzos
  • Violencia: es imprescindible aplicar la mayor intensidad y potencia de fuego posible en el corto espacio de tiempo para doblegar a los defensores y no darles tiempo a organizar la defensa o recibir refuerzos

A continuación existen dos requisitos previos para preparar adecuadamente el golpe de mano:

  • Observacion: consiste en observar las costumbres de la guarnición, sus puntos débiles y sus puntos fuertes, a que horas hay mayor guardia etc
  • Reconocimiento: requiere de un mayor acercamiento a la posición en sí, comprobar si puede haber elementos no apreciables únicamente mediante la vista, como minas, puntos camuflados, trincheras, el comportamiento habitual de los vigilantes respecto a los coches que pasan por la carretera etc

Además en este ataque en concreto se aprecian varios elementos particulares:

  • Enmascaramiento: los yihadistas se acercan en coches Toyota de tipo “civil”, es decir no es la típica “pick up” que usan los terroristas y que lleva un arma pesada montada. Esto es porque probablemente buscan pasar desapercibidos hasta que estén a la altura del fortín, y en ese sentido han estado dispuestos a renunciar a la potencia de fuego que podría proporcionar una de esas “pick up” con un arma montada
  • Falta de vigilancia: gran parte del éxito de este ataque se debe a que los propios defensores a raíz de la falta de disciplina o de entrenamiento no mantenían una guardia adecuada de tal forma que esto facilitó enormemente el golpe de mano
  • Amanecer: da idea de lo meticuloso de la preparación del ataque el que este se realice en un momento en que por la luz se aprecia que parece cercano al amanecer o el mediodía. Durante esas horas el ser humano por naturaleza tiende a estar más relajado y con un nivel de alerta menor

Además conviene que hagamos un inventario del material que utilizan los asaltantes:

Hay dos coches Toyota, de ellos salen entre 7 y 8 hombres de los que uno se dedica a grabar. Se aprecia el lanzamiento de lo que parece un RPG-7 aun que no se aprecia dicha arma en todo el vídeo. También llevan una ametralladora rusa PK y el resto de hombres usan diferentes versiones de rifles de la saga Kalashnikov. Por último portan algún tipo de explosivo casero a modo de granada de mano.

I5.jpg
Granada de mano casera usada por los asaltantes

El RPG-7 podría ser muy útil para producir un efecto similar al de la artillería, provocando confusión y caos. También podría ser útil para dejar fuera de combate a los humvees o para destruir posiciones reforzadas con cemento como las garitas.

La ametralladora PK proporciona un volumen de fuego superior a cualquier otra arma, no obstante en una operación de distancias tan cortas este tipo de armas no resultas de tanta utilidad.

Los rifles Kalashnikov a pesar de no ser ingeniería fina sirven perfectamente para un asalto en que las distancias son inferiores a los 20 metros. Por último las granadas de mano sirven para limpiar posiciones en las que los defensores se puedan atrincherar.

I7.jpg

El plan parece dividirse en tres fases:

  1. Ataque por los flancos: al comienzo del vídeo se aprecia que de cada Toyota sale un grupo. Uno se dirige al flanco izquierdo donde parece estar la entrada principal, y el otro se dirige al flanco derecho. Desde sus respectivas posiciones ambos lanzan al interior granadas caseras
  2. Asalto: el momento en que entran en el propio complejo y se lanzan contra las posiciones que albergan a los soldados iraquíes
  3. Saqueo, destrucción y huida: estas fases no se muestran en el vídeo pero cabe suponerlas. Este grupo seguramente trate de hacerse con munición, armas y en general todo aquello que puedan llevarse de utilidad. Lo que no puedan llevarse lo destruirán y a continuación se retirarán a través de una ruta previamente establecida

El ataque

Los terroristas llegan en dos  todoterrenos Toyota. Cuando están a la altura del objetivo el líder da dos golpes en el techo y el conductor para. Inmediatamente empieza un fuego cruzado entre el vigilante de la garita y los atacantes. Sin embargo el fuego de los asaltantes es muy superior y mata u obliga a retirarse al vigilante.

De cada coche sale un grupo que se dirige contra el flanco derecho e izquierdo respectivamente.

I4.jpg
Ataque por los flancos

Arrojan lo que parecen varias granadas caseras y simultáneamente disparan un cohete PG-7 que se pasa de alto,  en este momento los defensores están aturdidos, sin saber que ocurre ni cual es la situación, es posible que algunos hayan resultado muertos o heridos a raíz de las granadas caseras. Además cada uno se halla en una parte del fortín por lo que no son capaces coordinarse. Tampoco hay nadie en el interior de los humvee.

I1
Imagen de la explosión de una de las múltiples granadas de mano caseras que fueron arrojadas al interior del fortín

Los yihadistas se lanzan al interior del fortín donde acaban por separado con los defensores que extrañamente mueren sin siquiera tener un arma cerca.

A uno de los defensores le dio tiempo para colocarse un chaleco antibalas y acercarse a un humvee, sin embargo allí fue abatido y rematado por los yihadistas.

El vídeo acaba poco después y se aprecia como una parte de los edificios del interior del fortín están ardiendo, probablemente a raíz de los propios combates y de la retirada que van a emprender los atacantes.

I6.jpg
Probablemente de forma deliberada al retirarse los yihadistas destruyen todo aquello que pueda ser útil para el enemigo

Análisis

El ataque ha sido perfectamente ejecutado, el efecto sorpresa ha sido conseguido hasta estar a la altura del objetivo, la rapidez la han dado los propios terroristas al apresurarse en sus acciones, y la violencia ha sido proporcionada tanto por el ataque en dos flancos arrojando granadas de mano como por los Kalashnikovs usados en el asalto a corta distancia.

En el momento en que han estado a la altura del fortín, justo antes de que el guardia se percatara de lo que se le echaba encima los asaltantes han abierto fuego simultánea y sucesivamente, lo que le ha obligado a refugiarse en el interior del fortín, donde seguramente ha sido vulnerable a las granadas.

Los defensores no sólo tenían una guardia insuficiente si no que su posición estaba muy expuesta al estar junto a la carretera sin ninguna clase de puesto de vigilancia avanzado o barrera que obligara a los vehículos a pararse.

Además está claro que no esperaban ninguna clase de ataque de este tipo ya que de ser así es de suponer que hubieran tomado mayores medidas y estarían prevenidos. Esto sugiere una falta de inteligencia sobre el terreno que hubiera podido alertar de un posible golpe de mano terrorista en la zona.

El hecho de que todos los defensores murieran sin un arma cerca da idea del efecto de “shock” producido por el ataque. Este es un buen ejemplo de porque la violencia y la rapidez son los principios de un golpe de mano.

Por último cabe recordar que el vídeo fue subido a youtube el 1 de febrero de 2013, por lo que podemos suponer que fue grabado entre finales de 2012 y principios de 2013. En aquel momento EI no era EI, si no Estado Islámico de Iraq y el Levante, y no controlaba ni el norte de Iraq ni el noreste de Siria y a pesar de ello ya fueron capaces de tener fuerzas organizadas capaces de atacar muy eficazmente un puesto del ejército iraquí.

Además los hombres que realizan el golpe de mano tienen que ser de nacionalidad iraquí ya que a principios de 2013 EI aún no se había expandido ni había incorporado grupos extranjeros de sirios, chechenos u otros, por lo menos no a escala de unidades de combate.

Resulta curioso que el vídeo ya tenga la marca de agua de una de las productoras audiovisuales de EI en un momento tan temprano como principios de 2013, de hecho el que graben el ataque da muestra del gran desarrollo propagandístico y la visión estratégica desde el punto de vista comunicativo que tiene y ha tenido EI desde antes de sus grandes conquistas.

Opino que este vídeo nos da una idea bastante aproximada de la forma en que EI realiza y realizaba sus ofensivas desde el nivel táctico hasta el estratégico haciendo uso de una profunda observación y preparación y aprovechándose de los puntos débiles de sus adversarios.