A new report by Amnesty International details how weapons from countries including the U.S. have ended up in the hands of Islamic State fighters, who have used them to commit "serious human rights abuses and [violate] international humanitarian law."
The report, Taking Stock: The arming of Islamic State, calls for "stricter controls on the transfer, storage and deployment of arms" to prevent further proliferation.
Experts analyzed thousand of verified images and videos of ISIS fighters. They determined that the weapons originated in more than two dozen countries, including Russia, China, the U.S. and EU states. The report concludes that the majority of ISIS's weapons were stolen from Iraqi military stores, which have been built up over the past five decades.
"In the 1970s and 1980s at least 34 countries, led by Russia, France and China, irresponsibly transferred billions of dollars' worth of military equipment to Iraq," the reports says. "During the invasion and its aftermath, the US-led coalition's decision to disband the Iraqi army, estimated at around 400,000 personnel, meant that many tens of thousands of individuals returned home or went into hiding with their weapons."
The report also highlights recent shipments of arms to Iraq, many of which came from the U.S.:
"Between 2011 and 2013, the USA signed billions of dollars' worth of contracts for 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks, F16 fighter aircraft, 681 Stinger shoulder held units, Hawk anti-aircraft batteries, and other equipment. By 2014, the USA had delivered more than US$500 million worth of small arms and ammunition to the Iraqi government."
The report cites the Iraqi military's inability to maintain possession of its weapons as the main reason for why weapons have ended up in ISIS's hands. It also warns other countries against exporting arms to Iraq, calling for a "presumptions of denial" unless forces are able to prove they are able to control the weapons.