Amongst various militant groups in the Middle East there is a sporadic yet noteworthy use of suppressors used on firearms. I've been tracking this and have found that suppressors, also known as silencers or moderators, have been used by Hayat Tahir al-Sham (HTS), Islamic State (ISIS), People's Protection Units (YPG), and some other groups. This has lead to some interesting conclusions from my observations. Whilst there doesn't seem to be a great dearth of video or still imagery of suppressor use by any major rebel group in Syria, in this article I'll be looking at analysing some of them.

ISIS & AQ in Iraq

 
One of the most shocking videos of AQ in Iraq in the Summer of 2012 was a disguised night-time raid, which Long War Journal details:

The al Qaeda fighters are then issued uniforms that are worn by SWAT teams in the Iraqi National Police. Later that night, the militants, disguised as police commandos, get in the pickup trucks, some which have heavy machine guns mounted in the bed. Lights flashing, the al Qaeda fighters cruise the desert highways before they hit their targets: police barracks, checkpoints, and two senior Iraqi police commanders.

The Iraqi policemen appear to be stunned by the raids and comply with the al Qaeda operatives, clearly believing them to be INP commandos. The al Qaeda fighters flex-cuff the policemen, drag them outside of their positions, and line them up on the ground. The insurgents then walk down the line, and coldly shoot the policemen in the head with silenced pistols.

Whereas this raid did stand out to me because it was published online, there is evidence to suggest that this insurgent tactic was used much earlier- an article from The Guardian mentions waves of bomb and "silenced pistol" attacks across Baghdad, taking advantage of the disarray caused by the widespread issues in the 2010 election. A Senior Iraqi officer, Brigadier General Abdel-Hussein al-Kadhoumi, was killed by gunmen with suppressed pistols in May 2009. We know this tactic generally isn't rare-with Canadian Artillery Engineer Gerald Bull being killed by suspected Iraqi or Israeli Hit Team with 5 .32 ACP bullets shot into his neck and back by a suppressed weapon- most likely to be a Beretta Model 70- another example being the unfortunate case of Laurence Foley, an American Diplomat killed in Jordan by men working on behalf of AQ in Iraq using a suppressed .32 ACP pistol in 2002. Without going over the history of use of small calibre suppressed pistols by intelligence agencies over time (Hint: It's out of the scope of this article), it's safe to say that this tactic is a common and oft-used one, the events quoted above being nowhere near rare. This is touched on in this excellent 2008 post from the Jamestown Foundation on Insurgent use of suppressed pistols. It refers to "7mm Pistols" which we can assume refers to 7.65mm Browning, or 32 ACP.

Here's a two (cropped) images from the video that show the suppressed pistols in use:

2012_1

1: A pistol in use.

2:The same pistol, having failed to cycle, having the slide pulled back to re-cock

The size of these handguns appears to show a steel-framed pistol that seems to resemble a Walther PPK or derivative, of which cheap Interarms Clones are apparently popular. This video also gives an estimation of the volume reduction offered by a commercial supppressor- the Stealth Engineering Group "Jefferson". In this case, this pistol could be chambered in .22lr, .32ACP or .380, all of which can be successfully suppressed:

Below are some examples of suppressed handguns in the hands of ISIS, ISIS derivatives and others being used for covert ops and assassinations, a task for which a suppressor, rudimentary & homemade it may be, would certainly assist with the destabilisation of the security situation of the state the group is fighting. Also included are ones for sale, captured etc.

yemen_aug16
yemen_aug16_cycling(ISIS, Yemen, August 2016, Assasination of a Yemeni Colonel in Aden. This shows the pistol cycling)

ISIS_nov_2012-2(November 2012, then ISI, Now ISIS. Note chromed pistol- possible officer or ceremonial model- and civilian dress with lack of beard)

Desu_Dogg(ISIS, Syria, April 2015. .32 ACP Walther PPK.)

ISIS_North_Bagdad_2016-17(2017, ISIS, North Bagdad. Note successful cycling of pistol. I have obscured victim's faces.)

Glock_19_Early(2012-13, ISIS, Iraq. Glock 19 is in use. Green laser is attached to M16, off screen)

ISIS_Aleppo_2014(ISIS, Aleppo, Syria. Feb 2014. Pistol is an Interarms PPK clone in .380 ACP or 32 ACP.)

ISIS employs rifle suppressors in seemingly a more limited role, as opposed to their common use on pistols mentioned above. The group appears, as part of it's strategy of using long/accurate 5.56mm platforms in the DMR Role, to embrace suppressors to assist in the concealability and survivability of it's close range and urban sniper squads. POI Shift (The shift of the bullet when a suppressor is installed) would be naturally less of an issue at shorter ranges.

M16_Iraq(Iraq, December 2016. M16A4 used in close fighting)

ISIS_Fallujah_June2016(Fallujah, Iraq, June 2016. Short Suppressor on AK type rifle. Direct Thread Mount. This shorter type would naturally be louder.)

Dragunov(Raqqa, Syria. July/Aug 2017. Rifle is SVD Dragunov used in DMR role, notice painted/sprayed camo and spotter)

ISIS_Raqqa_2017_Urban_1

ISIS_Raqqa_2017_Urban_2

ISIS_Raqqa_2017_Urban_3(In the midst of Urban Fighting against SDF, Raqqa, 2017. Note Steyr AUG used in close range role, Glock 19 as side arm, and tape-wrapped M16A4 on spotter.)

It's interesting to note that the Chechen sniper is using a suppressor wrap very similar to a product such as a SilencerCo Suppressor Cover:

SilencerCo_Suppressor_Cover

This wrap has a variety of uses- concealment/camouflage, ease of quick removal (Protects against burns), and also mitigating the "mirage affect" from repeated firing- as the rifle is used, the suppressor gathers a lot of heat. This heat begins to rise off of the suppressor and creates a mirage- this mirage can obstruct the users' view making it almost impossible to see the target. In the hot conditions of Iraq and Syria this would be made worse.

Below is an interesting case- a improvised 12.7mm or 14.5mm anti-material rifle in use by ISIS (A fairly common phenomenon), but with a very large suppressor:

12.7_ISIS(Raqqa, Syria. July/Aug 2017)

HTS, Malhama Tactical & Rebel Groups

 
In contrast to ISIS, The most publicly visual use of suppressed long guns by non-state groups in Syria has mainly been by HTS and their semi-affiliate/trainer/self-titled PMC Malhama Tactical, though ISIS has also used suppressors more sparsely.

Malhama Tactical is the infamous "Jihadi Blackwater", and have a liking for aping Western/Russian SOF style, equipment and accessories, although their abilities, as assessed by Miles at The Firearm Blog, do not at all meet the standard of SOF, whilst generally superior to Irregular Opposition Forces and Conscripts. They are also fond of suppressors, and have shown videos of them using them in operations and training. This has also imbued into HTS- a Mahlhama-linked Twitter Account has proclaimed HTS militants seen using suppressors in a surprise attack in Latakia as "students":

It seems that these groups have recognised the tactical benefits of use of suppressors on the battlefield, particularly in attacks and ambushes, and retain a somewhat standardised design for AK platform suppressors. This again is a reflection of current increasing trends in Western and Russian Forces to issue suppressors more widely- the Marine Corps publicly testing silencing every weapon of an battalion. It doesn't seem that every fighter from Malhama carries suppressors also, which may indicate simple personal preference- this obviously somewhat dilutes the tactical benefits of suppressions if some in the squad are running unsuppressed.

The below 3 images and video show a small squad of HTS attacking Syrian regime troops in Latakia, and every member is using standardised suppressors, AK-74Ms and optics.

HTS_Raid

HTS_Raid2

HTS_Raid3

(Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham footage of a recent storming attack on a Syrian Ba'th regime artillery position in Jabal al-Turkman, Latakia governorat)

JaN_AKMS(Jabhat al Nusra (Later HTS) Canadian Fighter in Syria, with tripod and large suppressor. Rifle is a AKMS)

(Alwiya al-Furqan fighter identified as Abu Adam testing an AKMS with a self-manufactured silencer. Quneitra, October 2013. Similar design to the above JaN suppressor)

HTS_Bashkuy_Syria

HTS_Bashkuy_Syria2(HTS, Bashkuy, Syria. Storming regime fortifications.AK-74M, AKM, MPi-KMS-72, AK-74. Suppressors are camo wrapped.)

At least 2 of the fighters involved in the above attack were later killed and their weapons seized:

Below are confirmed appearances of suppressors in the hands of Malhama Tactical.

group_shot(Syria, March 2017. Note M16A4 and a Steyr AUG unsuppressed. Rifle on the left is an AK-74, On right is an AKM. Note the overall optics and equipment attempting to mirror Western/Russian SOF.)

Malhama1(Steyr Aug, Near Aleppo, Syria. 2016)

Malhama_2017

Malhama_ak74(Syria, 2016-2017. Same design as suppressors above. Training footage.)

This use of a suppressor by the YPG in Afrin on July 5 2018 as part of their campaign against the Turkish-FSA forces in that areas is unique, in that this is the first time I've seen the YPG use a PBS-1 Suppressor, likely on an AK variant- as the weapons used are referred to as sniper rifles this possibly a Tabuk, a "Dragunov-Lite" DMR that is based on the AK platform (Zastava M72 in particular). It has an open sight hood and the suppressor doesn't look like a TGP-V (For Dragunov), but rather a PBS-1, a well known soviet suppressor for 7.62x39.

The Shot also seems rather loud, but the PBS-1 is at the lower end of volume reduction (AK platforms tend to suppress worse than the M16 family anyway, due to the different gas system and looser tolerances), at about 15 dB according to Wikipedia/US Testing. Modern western commercial suppressors are closer to 30 db. This is the only clearly military or commerical origin suppressor that I have seen in use by non-government actors in Syria or Iraq.

YPG_Afrin

Common Platforms, Designs and Calibres

 
Below is a recap and round-up of some design points I have noticed in the suppressors of various groups, the most common platfroms used, and other miscellaneous points.

Pistol Calibre Suppression

The blowback action of many PPK/Makarov type pistols is liable to be caused issues by suppression (Particularly with weaker calibres, which may lack the power to always successfully cycle with the suppressor attached). This can be observed in this video and above, in which one Terrorist clearly is encountering issues with the action cycling. These cheap and common pistols, which may well be eastern bloc clones, seem to get the job done, however there are a variety of issues why a pistol (In particular cheaper pistols and weaker cartridges) may not cycle- this including but not limited to:

  • Addding the extra weight to the barrel by screwing on a suppressor interfering with the gun's ability to properly cycle the action after each shot- this can be experienced with browning tilting barrel design pistols- a great explainer over at The Firearm Blog, such as the Glock 19 often used by ISIS.

  • The suppressor requiring a lighter recoil spring in order to cycle the action- the suppressor reduces the recoil of the round, meaning the pistol can fail to cycle.

  • Inconsistent/weak ammunition also causing the above issue.

These issues can be solved via the use of a Muzzle booster (Also known as a Nielsen device), which typically come with a commercial suppressors in order to ensure correct operation of the pistol. This means also that the pistol does not require a change of recoil spring to use unsuppressed.

The by far most popular pistol family that I have observed being suppressed is Beretta. Including the 85FS, 70, M1935/1934, and M1951, the latter being by far the most commonly suppressed pistol- appearing in almost 40% of the occurences of suppressed pistols I have catalogued. This 9x19 pistol is extremely common in both Iraq and Syria due to the production of it by the Saddam regime from 1981-2003 (Production restarted from 2009 also, it continues today) and is known as the Tariq for Iraqi-production models. It's currently in service with the Iraqi Police and other Iraqi forces. The M1951 was also produced in Egypt as the Helwan, and was imported by Libya. It carries 8 rounds of 9x19 ammunition, and is easily confused with a Beretta 92 (Or M9) but is actually its predecessor in terms of design.

Beretta_M1951Left Image: Tariq Pistol captured by HTS from ISIS, Idlib, July 2017.

Right Image: Credit- Bob Adams NM

This is very commonplace in general, so is naturally more likely to be used as a suppressor host.

Another pistol with a very similar operation to the Beretta M1951 is the Beretta 85, a more compact pistol than the M1951.

Beretta_85FSLeft Image: Beretta 85FS (May be 84 or similar, but closest match is 85FS) in use by the YPG to assasinate TFSA (Turkish-Free Syrian Army) militant in Jindires, Syria. 24 June 2018

Right Image: Chromed Beretta 85FS, .380 ACP, Commercial Sale in the United States

The Model 70 series is smaller again. It is chambered in .32 ACP, again uses the falling locking block design and is famously popular amongst intelligence agencies such as the Mossad, though I have only seen it used once in Syria- by the YPG. This example may be a 70, 70S or 71, meaning that it could be chambered in .22 LR, .32 ACP, or .380 ACP. This pistol is likely to be quieter suppressed compared to 9x19mm Pistols.

Beretta_Model_70Left Image: Turkish Army and FSA arrested an YPG member who was carrying a Model 70 with suppressor. Afrin, Syria, July 2018. This was evidently for covert operations by the YPG.

Right Images: Beretta Model 70 Example- .32 ACP

Libya_Dec_2015(For Sale on Illicit Arms Sales Group on Facebook, Libya. December 2015. .380 ACP or .32 ACP- Beretta M1935/1934. This suppressor may be commercial production.)

It's easy to mistake all of these pistols on first glance to the Beretta 92 (Made famous as the M9), but curiously I have yet to see any examples of these being suppressed by any party in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or Libya. One of the key advantages of these Berettas are their falling locking block operation- this results in much much less barrel movement compared to pistols such as the Glock 19, Ruger P95 (Both seen in Iraq) pistols with browning tilt-barrel designs – that need a booster or light recoil spring to cycle effectively as mentioned above.

The design of the suppressors used by ISIS Baghdad is detailed by two arabic-language videos from ISIS Baghdad in 2015, which shows some impressive craftsmanship with suppressors that resemble western supppressors such as those from Silencerco or AAC. We can see an Glock 19 in use- many thousands of these flooded Iraq after the Iraqi Police/Army was supplied them, and users promptly sold them on. A 2007 estimate gives 80,000 lost, a number which is sure to have risen since.

Glock_19_23Left to right: Manufacturing the suppresor baffle, spraying the suppressor tube, and testing it. There is a noticable volume decrease.

The manufacturing abilities of ISIS are evidently mature, which any observer would know from their existing arms manufacturing (Mortars, Rocket Launchers, RPG-7 clones etc.) Here's an image of the internals of the AAC Ti-Rant 9MM, which appear similar to this ISIS design:

Ti-Rant

Glock_19_Baffle
Left 3 Images: A comparison of ISIS K baffle design
Other Images: Images of various pistol calibre K baffle designs from American commercial manufacturers

They have separate removeable baffles (Stacked as opposed to a monolithic core) that are machined using a metal lathe and certainly appear to be of high quality. These "K baffles" are regarded as harder to manufacture than a monolithic core.

The monolithic core is one solid piece of metal which has had sections machined out of it or sometimes created through casting. The stacked baffles are a series of individually created baffles which are stacked together to create the core. From a manufacturing standpoint, the monolithic core is much easier to create from time and materials. It is simply a matter of programming the design into a CNC machine then setting the machine to begin cutting the pieces of metal into the core. The stacked baffles take a little more precision, supplies, and labor. The baffles must be perfect to ensure that they are aligned straight to avoid baffle strikes, plus the baffles must almost lock into place together to keep them from moving and messing up the alignment. The second difference involves the length of the silencer in comparison to the amount of decibel reduction; “silencer efficacy”. A stacked baffle design can more effectively work the gases and therefore can make a quieter silencer with less length. The increased surface area of the stacked baffle design also helps to pull the heat out of the gases faster which also aids in reduced decibels.

Dakotasilencer.com, Monolithic Core Baffles vs Stacked Baffles

The manufacturing process for the K baffles is very similar to this video on YouTube:

This suppressor design is also modular, as an very similar design is shown and used on an MP5A3, a rare gun in ISIS hands. This Submachine gun fires at a rate of 800 rounds per minute, and is a highly formidable close quarters weapon.

Firing_MP5-1Note ejection of 9x19 casing
Muzzle_CapNote custom muzzle cap/device. This gives the appearance of an integrally suppressed to MP5 to a degree, but this model is standard.
In_OperationThe suppressed MP5A3 in action. This full auto spray put at least 10 rounds in a very short time into the side of the car in the first image. It then crashes.

Specifications given for this suppressor are identical to the Glock one, which is conceivable, but we cannot tell if the device for the Glock contains a Muzzle Booster (SMGs and Rifles don't require one), but the diagram spotted on the wall in one section of the MP5 Video may contain a sketch of one, as well as dimensions for baffles and the suppressor itself.

hu2w-C2B.jpg-large

I'm currently trying to translate this rough draft and dimensions given into a detailed diagram of this ISIS-designed suppressor- any assistance on this would be very helpful, please contact me on Twitter if you think you recognise the parts/or read the writing.

The Video also gives some dimensions of this suppressor, whilst also allowing other observations:

  • Outside diameter is given as 38mm, inside diameter of the muzzle is given as 9mm (This must probably higher, as an exact 9mm diameter hole wouldn't allow the .355 bullet to exit cleanly), and the length is 20cm.
  • They claim it was designed and manufactured by their mechanical workshop of Wilayat Baghdad and that it was manufactured with "high precision" and the manufacturing division used "computers and other advanced mechanisms" in their work.
  • The size of the silencers are in line with "international standards".
  • The silencer can be used for a long time (Claims to be forever, though all silencers wear) and doesn’t break down easily.
  • The normal 3 lug mounting device on the MP5A3 has been removed and replaced with a new mounting system, which appears to be a threaded end welded to a end cap. This would allow using both suppressors on either weapon system, assuming a thread similar to 1/2X28. However, a possible muzzle booster would have to be removed or vice versa for interchangeable use.

There isn't any current public data I can find regarding the manufacture of threaded barrels for any weapon that IS employs, but it would be well within their capabilites. It's also possible that ISIS have a source for a threaded barrels for the Glock 19, as by default supplied to the Iraqi Police these did not have a threaded barrel, which disallows attachment of a suppressor. This also applies to the Beretta models shown in use, though it is entirely likely that there has been Syrian regime (Or Iraqi) leakage of suppressor ready pistols (And suppressors themselves), given the sheer amount of Ghanimah captured by IS over time. ISIS suppressors share a fairly consistent design in ISIS hands in Syria and Iraq, varying only in size, showing some level of standardisation and skill across their areas of operation.

A Second Variant?

Yemeni and Libyan examples vary in size and design details- here's an image of a PPK Captured from ISIS in Libya with what appears to a cup style suppressor adaptor (With no suppressor visible) welded to the barrel:

Libya_PPK_CapWalther PPK in .32ACP Captured in ISIS houses along with FN FAL & AK rifles, huge quantity of ammo, Benghazi, Libya, August 2015.

Circled is what seems to be a screw hole- I think this is for mounting of suppressors- a different method than the ISIS Baghdad one above, but one that is simpler and requires less machining. In the below screenshots of a video from Yemen, a screw is shown:

Yemen_Close-1

The assasins hold the suppressor, which is not something that's recommend or required with commerical suppressors. We also don't see this with IS Iraq. If the mounting solution is inferior, then this can be explained, or this may just be a variation of training or typical practice of their fighters in Yemen. This below image seems similar, yet lacks the screw:

More_Workbench_Silencers_2An alternate design- From "More More Workbench Silencers - George Hollenback"

They seem to function reliably, or reliably enough to usually run through a whole magazine for the purposes of an covert assassination of a single target (Or multiple unresisting ones, which can be seen in the 2012 video mentioned above). After all, at the tactical level, if multiple rounds are being fired in quick succession, the militant is in a firefight, which these pistols and suppressors are not meant for- as opposed to their use on Rifles, though both are used for sudden covert attacks.

Rifle Calibre Suppression

My conversations with Abu Salman Belarus (A Malhama-linked Twitter account) has confirmed various details- That Malhama produce these suppressors themselves and they are indeed standardised, that these suppressors screw straight onto the rifle- meaning the muzzle break is removed and that they have at least 2 individuals (Some kind of workshop/engineering division) that manufacture these suppressors that aren't fighters.

Whilst Western Forces have very stringent requirements for construction and durability of these devices, groups such as HTS, who are using indigenously produced versions in every recent image or video I have seen so far of them putting suppressors to use, would be able to fabricate and replace as desired.

These designs are similar in external appearance to modern russian (Zenitco) suppressors and western designs. Whilst suppressors are far from generally issued (Standard equipment being essentially an AK variant, mag pouches, and some form of uniform with some body armour usage) HTS and affiliates' Inghimasi units have used suppressors in attacks on regime positions on a number of occasions, as shown by the images in this piece.

There is also sporadic examples of Rebel suppressor use, manufacture and sale. This is again reflective of the overall trend in the theatre, but these examples do not seem to be as standardised as those shown by ISIS etc.

Statistics

More to come, watch this space for a new post

Sale of Suppressors

More to come, watch this space for a new post

Summary

 
The use of suppressors by various actors should be viewed not through the technical lense of their attributes and calibres, but rather the broader strategic realities that lead to suppressors being of use to non-state groups, and their particular needs. As ISIS returns to destabilisation and chaos-inducing efforts with its loss of ground and numbers, the use of attacks such as these will increase, as well as the use of suppressed weapons in them. This is also reflected in the YPG's recent operations against Turkish/FSA forces in Afrin and surrounding areas- attempts to degrade the operational control of their opponents. This trend may be down to observal of ISIS' successful use of this model of operation, but either way looks to be effective. Suppressored Pistols and IEDs look to be a large part of both of these campaigns, with ISIS in particular reverting to this tactic against multiple foes, HTS most recently, alongside more conventional attacks. The YPG has also shown suppressed medium range "sniper" operations, though in the western sense this looks closer to DMR use. It'll be interesting to observe these trends when the coming Idlib battle(s) happen- will Rebel and Islamist groups revert to more insurgent-style tactics such as these? If so, we can expect to see more suppressors in use and a greater insight into their design and capabilities.

The uses of a suppressor (Typically in pistol calibres) when in the hands of insurgent or militant hands are multiple; a suppressor obviously reduces sound signature, which will reduce the speed and accuracy of any potential interdiction or counter-operation, and means that an operation using firearms can remain covert. If removing outposts, isolated small groups or sentries is the goal of the operation, then use of suppressors means that the chance of detection is lower. Another use is very close range, such as the executions indoors we see ISIS carry out. Suppressors also greatly remove muzzle flash and make militants harder to see in low light conditions, again meaning night time or evening operations can more effectively use the element of surprise and remain undetected.

A forum participant nicknamed “Obaid al-Baghdadi” recounted an attack by two jihadis on an Iraqi military barracks in the al-Saidia district of Baghdad where silenced weapons were used prior to an unnoticed withdrawal. “They perpetrated the operation quietly. The [other Iraqi soldiers] didn’t find out the two were shot until lunchtime. May God grant the two jihadis heaven and beautiful virgins,” says al-Baghdadi.

Jamestown.org, 2008

If the physical advantages of suppressor use in covert operations are clear, then there is another important factor- morale-wise. The idea of suppressors being a "James Bond" type of device remains very strong across the world- it's commonly believed the continuing restrictions on their purchase in the United States (Remaining an NFA item) are at least partially down to the image of them being a whisper-silent assassination device.

The thought of a silent assassin stealthily picking off lone or isolated outposts cannot be discounted as a useful attribute for these groups, particularly when attempting to gradually erode the territorial and societal control of a state over an area (Who are probably using conscripts), cannot be discounted, even if the actual reality is that suppressors merely make pistol shots less detectable not whisper-silent. A covert operation using multiple pistol calibre weapons (Such as the MP5, and Pistols) follows a similar approach to those carried out by Western SOF, and is sure to mean an increased response time from the adversary, be it a state or a rival group.

The use of suppressors in the case of their use on the Battlefield is different to their use in a covert fashion, but their benefits are just as evident, if not more so.

"There are virtually no instances where an ambushed unit actually sees the enemy," Scales, a Vietnam War veteran, said. "Both sides shoot at flashes and sounds."And most firefights are at night.
If a soldier's weapon is quieter than the enemy's, and the enemy can't see the muzzle flash, the soldier has the advantage, Scales said.

This quote is from this great article from the Military Times in the context of the United States Marine Corps and Army expanding the use of suppressors, but it does apply to their use by irregular forces too.

It later touches on the use of communication, too. The use of suppressors greatly enhances the ability to communicate coherently without raising the voice dramatically- if the attackers are carrying out covert assassinations, then this certainly assists with interrogation and co-ordinating the operation. I have yet to find any reliable source on the exact amount that improvised suppressors can actually reduce the sound signature, but assuming a similar Db reduction to commercial suppressors (Indeed, observing ISIS' manufacturing process, this seems entirely possible) of 20-35 Db, they would certainly be effective for this. The video first touched on in 2012 shows this clearly. Firing an unsuppressed weapon indoors can cause permanent hearing damage. Sound waves rebound in the close confines of buildings, sending them directly back and onto the eardrum. These very close circumstances can be an ideal application for a suppressor to keep this to a minimum. However, I believe this is a minimal application in our context, as unsuppressed weapons are used very very commonly by all actors in Syria, Iraq and similar theatres. Overall, suppressors merely add a higher time for the opponent to detect, respond to and neutralise, especially if they are badly or barely trained, such as the SyAA.

An important question is the implications for the West and other Counter-Terror organisations and the capabilities of actors they are likely to face. Urban Battlefields like those seen in Raqqa, Mosul and so on pose challenges that are decidently different to the slower-paced, longer range combat that western forces have enjoyed recently, with the technology gap now closer than before, though most combat remains at range. How Western troops deal with multiple high intensity Raqqa-style battles is outside of the purview of the author, but the use of common, effective suppressors in kill holes and CQB simply add another difficult angle to targeting irregular opponents. The use of suppressed rifles in fast assasinations such as those shown by HTS against the Assad Regime in Latakia show a effective and rabid ability to cause costly damage and to erode overall perceived control of an area. Though we are yet to see this kind of tactic and equipment in wide use against Western forces, and Western forces are likely to have superior perimeter control and procedures, this tactic will only become more defined over time.

Credits:

Assistance: @JakeHanrahan, @ShakiraSecurity, @HKamaan, @AbraxasSpa, @iBRABO_com, @Silah_Report

Translation: @Mortis_Banned, @AlMasalim13

I am very new to this, having been inspired by many on the OSINT/Weapon ID/etc scene on Twitter. Many thanks to all of you- (Too many to list!) for providing such useful information and a real window into so many conflicts and peoples across the world.

Sources:

  Please @ or message me on Twitter for sources/urls for screenshots/events etc.