On Sunday, ISIS fighters captured Syria's Tabqa air base, the last Syrian military outpost in an area that is now dominated by the radical Jihadist organization. The air base had been the scene of intense fighting between ISIS and the Syrian military for the past week. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) estimates that at least 346 ISIS militants and 170 Syrian forces were killed in the assault. Securing the Tabqa air base marks yet another victory for ISIS, one that will allow the group to further solidify its hold over northern and eastern Syria.
Additionally, the base provided the militants with weaponry — including anti-aircraft systems — that could enable them to further advance their regional ambitions. IS fighters have captured SA-16 MANPADS, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles & MiG-21B jets in Tabaqa Airbase, Raqqa. ISIS fighters managed to loot SA-16 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), Sidewinder missiles, and even MiG-21B fighter jets.
It is extremely unlikely that the militants have the manpower or the expertise to make use of the jets or the Sidewinder missiles. But the MANPADS pose dangers of their own. SA-16 MANPADS are shoulder-mounted homing missiles that are relatively simple to use. A missile fired from an SA-16 can reach an aircraft flying as high as 16,000 feet. This would put low-flying aircraft and helicopters at risk of being targeted by the jihadists, raising additional challenges for carrying out airstrikes against ISIS.
Read more: Yahoo Finance