ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) are salvaging parts from Russian, Chinese and American weapons to build their own high caliber snipers, according to reports.
Kurdish fighters fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria are developing a weapons' system to “bridge capability gaps” on the field, namely with the creation of the Zagros sniper rifle, said the Military Times.
“Kurdish fighters salvage parts from a 12.7 mm DsHK Russian heavy machine gun and use the trigger from an RPG launcher,” Neçirvan Zirek, an international YPG volunteer who served as a sniper with the US-backed fighters, told Military Times.
“The rifle provides stand-off distance for Kurdish fighters and is capable of puncturing light armored vehicles like the suicide bombs driven by IS militants or breaking through concrete walls to take out concealed jihadists,” Zirek said.
The 12.7 mm homemade sniper rifle is named after the Zagros Mountains that range across the Kurdish inhabited regions of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.
The Zagros gun is used for both soft targets and anti-materiel, but it depends on the type of ammunition you use, Zirek noted, adding that ammo can be hard to come by as the group continues to face off against the jihadist group.
“The massive homemade sniper rifle employed by the Kurds is done out of necessity,” Zirek said.
Despite the US decision to arm the Kurdish fighters who are spearheading the fight against IS to retake the militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa, Zirek suggested military supplies were quite limited, pushing the Kurds in northern Syria to get creative.
The move to arm the Syrian Kurds was strongly opposed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as Turkey views the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has been waging a decades-long battle against the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights.
Turkey claims weapons supplied to the YPG have ended up with the PKK but has failed to provide evidence.
As such, the equipment provided to YPG is minimal and doled out on an as-needed basis, according to officials at the Pentagon.
The US currently has hundreds of advisers supporting different factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised of Kurdish and Arab troops in northern Syria.
The YPG has proven to be the US military’s most reliable ally on the ground as the group has retaken over 55 percent of the jihadist group’s de facto capital in Syria.
Since early June, the US has sent about 800 trucks of military supplies to the Kurdish-led SDF as they continue to battle IS in Syria.
Editing by Ava Homa