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14.4.2021 : 21:15 : +0200

Focus on Syria: Ammunition and Foreign Jihadism

Two new publications, from the Security Assessment in North Africa, offer insight into the situation in Syria, investigating the variety and availability of small arms ammunition documented in the country, and the presence and role of foreign fighters in the ongoing hostilities.

The Working Paper Following The Headstamp Trail: An Assessment of Small-calibre Ammunition Documented in Syria analyzes 70 different small-calibre cartridge headstamps (ammunition identification markings) documented in Syria. The assessment is based on photos of cartridge headstamps, cartridges, and ammunition packaging, as well as contextual information such as weapons systems and combatants observed with the ammunition. Information and photographs were collected from both government and rebel forces, during a one-year period until May 2013. This baseline will provide a useful  first step for future work in documenting ammunition in Syria and the broader region.

A new online Dispatch, Foreign Jihadism in Syria: The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, offers a snapshot of foreign fighters in Syria at the end of 2013. Focusing on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, the report examines the organization’s strengths, its weaknesses, and its operational impact. The Dispatch goes on to consider whether the presence of foreign fighters in Syria provides clues as to the future of transnational jihadism. The study reports on a series of interviews—targeting diverse participants in the conflict—conducted in the region during September 2013.

Following The Headstamp Trail and Foreign Jihadism in Syria are products of the Small Arms Survey’s Security Assessment in North Africa, a multi-year project to support those engaged in building a more secure environment in North Africa and the Sahel-Sahara region. The project produces timely, evidence-based research and analysis on the availability and circulation of small arms, the dynamics of emerging armed groups, and related insecurity. The project website ( provides a portal to the project findings, as well as other relevant resources on small arms in Libya and North Africa from the Small Arms Survey and other sources.


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