A new United Nations report is warning that the Islamic State terrorist organization has stored up enough small arms, weapons and ammunition to allow the group to continue fighting its war for as long as two more years even if the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes continue to take out ISIS' heavy weaponry and vehicles.
Although the U.S.-led coalition has used airstrikes to try and halt the militants' advances and destroy their vehicles, weapons, and revenue sources, the report, which was prepared for the United Nations Security Council and was released on Monday, finds that future coalition airstrike efforts "cannot mitigate the effects of [ISIS'] significant volume of light weapons."
"According to different sources, the amounts of Iraqi small arms and ammunition captured by ISIL are sufficient to allow ISIL to continuing fighting at current levels for six months to two years," the report states. "ISIL should have few problems maintaining state-of-the-art materials seized from the Iraqi Government, as most were unused."
According to the report, ISIS' revenue network and large reserves of weapons and ammunitions provide the group with mobility and staying power within its controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, and also gives the fighters the ability to defend against low-flying aircraft.
The Islamic State has acquired most of the weapons through seizing them from the Iraqi government forces and armed rebel forces in Syria, the report finds. Of the Iraqi government weapons seized, only some of the weapons were recently produced but many of the weapons had been stored away since the 1980s and 1990s.
The militants seized the Iraqi government weapons from stocks in the Anbar, Diyala and Salah al-Din provinces, as well as stocks in the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. The report further states that 30 percent of Iraqi soldiers did not put up a fight against ISIS, as they deserted their positions and abandoned their weapons.
"Both ISIL and [Al Nursa Front] have seized military assets from conventional armies," the report says. "The scale of these seizures can be grasped by noting that ISIL, in June of 2014, captured vehicles, weapons, and ammunition sufficient to arm and equip more than three Iraqi conventional army divisions."
A "large portion" of ISIS' current Iraqi-seized weaponry was captured after June 2014, according to the report. The terrorist group is also smuggling new weapons through the Turkish border into Syria. Former ISIS fighters claim the Turkish government has cooperated by letting ISIS forces cross freely over the border.
Although there is no concrete estimate for the amount of conventional arms currently under Islamic State control, the report estimates that the size of ISIS' arsenal resembles that of an actual country's military force. The report also confirms that ISIS has more sufficient weaponry than opposing militia forces combating the group, like the Kurdish People's Protection Unit.
"Member States agree that the quantities seized are in excess of those required for a militia, and better match those of a military force," the report states.
ISIS' arsenal is said to include missiles, rockets, rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns, two varieties of tanks, and hundreds of high-mobility multipurpose vehicles.
The report also examines the various ways in which the Islamic State brings in its continual revenue. The report estimates that the group makes anywhere from $846,000 to over $1.6 million per day off of crude oil sales produced from refineries within the captured territories. Although ISIS controls oil fields in Iraq, the report states that most of its oil revenue is produced in Syria.
Citing an unnamed member state, the report adds that ISIS has been able to raise as much as $45 million from ransom payments for the freeing of its hostages in a one-year span. Citing another unnamed member state, the report adds that ISIS also produces millions of dollars every month through the process of extortion.
Other revenue sources for the militant group include the selling of wheat and the selling of sex slaves. The report, however, does not indicate how much revenue ISIS has produced from those markets.
Given ISIS' vast sources of revenue and vast amount of weaponry, the report recommends ways in which the U.N. can cut off ISIS access to weapons and money.
The U.N. needs to create new sanctions designed to disrupt the militants' cash flow, it suggests. The report advises that countries neighboring the Islamic State territory, including Turkey, need to seize "all oil tanker trucks and their loads" as they try to cross the border in either direction, in hopes to deter oil smugglers from cooperating with the Islamic State.