Building a Headstamp Record of Syria’s Civil War.

Yesterday we posted four samples of markings on rebel 7.62x39mm ammunition in Aleppo. We held one back to give it a closer look, as it was not a stamp we had seen before. Coincidentally, it was yet another example of a caliber stamping in the place (the 12 o’clock position) where a factory code or logo is often found. And it was stamped into the metal in yet another font.

Syria’s war is drawing arms into the country from afar. But there are also many examples of local munitions production — makeshift and factory grade alike — finding use in the fighting.  Rebels consistently say that they acquire much of their ammunition either by confiscating it from dead Syrian soldiers or captured Syrian bunkers and bases, as well as through purchases from corrupt Syrian military officers or black marketeers with connections to them. Precisely identifying this ammunition has proven tricky, in part because when cartridges of suspected Syrian government origins are found they have typically already been removed from their original packaging. Further, there are few publicly available references on Syrian government and industry packing and stamping codes. This means often there is nothing to check a find against.

So, if you are reading this and you know something of Middle Eastern munitions production, and have references, we invite you to be in touch and share your references.  You can reach out via chivers@nytimes.com or thegun.book@gmail.com.  The information we seek no doubt exists; it’s a matter now of assembling and distributing it. If this ammunition is in fact from Syria, it may well have shown up at many conflicts and locales in the region — Lebanon, Gaza, Turkey and Iraq — where Syria has had either a direct involvement or played a proxy hand.

Meanwhile, James Bevan, director of of Conflict Armament Research, echoed our hunch that this cartridge is Syrian-made. This afternoon he wrote:

…there are quite a few posts online which illustrate ammunition of suspected Syrian manufacture. Some of these (although not all) feature the X, which is smaller than the calibre font (i.e. 7.62x39, rather than 7.62X39). Admittedly this is not much to go on.
On a more optimistic note, please see the attached scan (6th entry, number 4705). It’s from Jorion & Regenstreif (1995), Culots de Munitions, which I believe is out of print. Although dated, I consider this one of the most reliable historical works on headstamps, which has proved itself consistently accurate time and again in my work. It says to me that Syria did (although may no longer) produce 7.62 x 39, featuring a calibre designation and a two-digit date code. 

The attachment Mr. Bevan referenced listed a factory marking scheme consisting of the 7.62x39 stamp at top (12 o’clock position) and a two-digit year stamp at the bottom (6 o’clock position), and attributed the markings to the “Ets Industriels de Defense a Damas.”

Anything to add? The catcher’s mitt is open. Help us build a fuller record, so we might watch for this ammunition as it moves. (And if this is not Syrian production, and you can show its origins to be otherwise, don’t hold that back either.)

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Top and bottom, a thus far unidentified 7.62x39mm round, from a brief survey of rebel magazines in Aleppo. Middle, two headstamps on ammunition of Iranian provenance. Take a moment to spot and commit to memory the many differences. Top and bottom, by the author. Last month. Middle. Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research. (Images of ammunition in Syria made with the consent of individual fighters who allowed me to examine the contents of their magazines or stores.)


Notes

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