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20.4.2021 : 9:27 : +0200

Rogue Rocketeers: Artillery Rockets and Armed Groups

For decades, armed groups around the world have converted rockets intended for use with large, vehicle-mounted launchers into improvised light weapons. Indiscriminate and lethal, these weapons have killed and injured thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Yet, despite the demonstrated threat posed by artillery rockets, they have received significantly less attention from policy-makers than conventional small arms and light weapons do.

A new Small Arms Survey Working Paper, Rogue Rocketeers: Artillery Rockets and Armed Groups, provides a greater understanding of artillery rockets, their use as improvised light weapons by armed groups, and the threat that these weapons pose to military and civilian targets.

The main findings from this Working Paper include the following:

  • Use of artillery rockets by armed groups is widespread. Groups in at least 12 countries have produced, acquired, and/or used artillery rockets against military and civilian targets in recent years.
  • Armed groups in Iraq have acquired hundreds of Iranian artillery rockets. The Small Arms Survey has also documented the acquisition of Iranian rockets by armed groups in several other locations, including Afghanistan, Gaza, and Syria.
  • Many of the key provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty (2013) do not explicitly apply to artillery rockets commonly used by armed groups.

Rogue Rocketeers provides a technical overview of the types and models, battlefield roles, and manufacturers of artillery rockets, illustrated with photographs. It goes on to assess the threat posed by poorly secured and illicit artillery rockets, including their use by armed groups in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Working Paper concludes with a brief assessment of the Arms Trade Treaty as a tool for controlling the transfer of artillery rockets.

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