Islamic State group (IS)-linked ‘news agency’ A’maq has reported on 17 March 2016, via their official account on the messaging app Telegram, on the killing of “a Russian military advisor” during skirmishes between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and IS near Palmyra, in the Homs Governorate of Syria. A video shared by IS shows the deceased combatant alongside a selection of his equipment.
The rifle pictured is a heavily customised AK-74M self-loading rifle. The Ak-74M is a selective-fire, gas-operated self-loading rifle chambered for the 5.45 x 39 mm cartridge. It is a development of the AK-74 rifle, first introduced in 1974, itself a derivative of the ubiquitous Avtomat Kalashnikova (AK) series of rifle. In 1991, the AK-74M was introduced into Russian military service; it is most readily identified by its side-folding solid polymer stock, black polymer furniture, and sling swivels, as well as the distinctive muzzle brake of earlier AK-74 series rifles. This particular example is fitted with a range of post-manufacture accessories, including an adjustable buttstock, fore end with multiple accessory rails, top accessory rail, and alternative pistol grip. The rifle is also fitted with a suppressor in place of the distinctive muzzle brake, and an IWT 640 ‘Haron’ thermal weapon sight with backup CQB red dot sight. The weapon and its magazines have been painted in a camouflage scheme.
The video also shows other captured equipment, including a helmet with camouflage cover, accessory rail, and adjustable LED light; CORE Survival Hel-Star series strobe; navigation equipment, including a compass and Garmin GPS unit; individual first aid kit (IFAK) including CELOX brand haemostatic bandages; personal radio; dust goggles; guarana ‘energy shots’; a 5.11 brand watch; and several other items.
The equipment is consistent with that issued to and acquired by Russian special operations forces (SOF) in recent years, including items documented in service with Russian SOF in Ukraine and elsewhere. The presence of mine-clearance equipment, including a Russian made IMP-2 metal detector and mine clearance probe, and what appears to be a pull line and hook, may indicate the combatant was an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operator.
On 17 March 2016, the Islamic State displayed a range of equipment it claimed to have recovered from “a Russian military advisor” killed during fighting near Palmyra. The nature of the equipment recovered indicates that the fighter was likely a Russian special operations forces (SOF) EOD operator. Amongst the equipment recovered was an MIB type multi-function munition. Little is known about this relatively unusual munition, however its development and use is most commonly associated with Russian SOF units. The MIB (Многофункциональный боеприпас; ‘multi-function munition’) is often described as a “grenade mine”, alluding to a design which allows it to be thrown as a hand grenade, or emplaced as an anti-personnel mine. The MIB is believed to have been adopted by Russian forces in 2007, and two minor design iterations may have been introduced to present. One model known as the MG-2 appears to be very similar to the MIB, however there is little information available in the public domain. It is possible that the munition documented in Syria is an iteration of the MIB, an MG-2, or another derivative munition with a similar operating principle.
The MIB is a high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) munition, weighing in at 830 g with an 80 g charge of A-IX-1 high explosive (96% RDX phlegmatised with 4% paraffin wax). When employed as a hand grenade, it functions with a simple 3-5 second time delay fuze before detonating. The munition’s functioning as a mine is similar to that of the US M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition (PDM) or the Russian POM-2 scatterable AP mine. The munition is (ideally) emplaced in an upright position by hand or thrown. After a 60 to 120 second delay, the five perforated portions of the outer casing are forced downwards, stabilising the body and righting the munition if thrown. The mine then deploys four 10 metre-long tripwires; these function the mine when disturbed. The MIB has a 3-100 hour variable self-destruct timer, as well as a chemical fail-safe which renders the mine inert after no more than 120 days.
This is believed to be the first documented instance of the capture of this type of munition by a non-state armed group.
Length: 170 mm
Diameter: 61.5 mm
Weight: 830 g
Explosive weight: 80 g
Explosive composition: A-IX-1
Delay (grenade): 3 to 5 seconds
Arming delay (mine): 60 – 120 seconds
Number of tripwires (mine): 4
Length of tripwires (mine): 10 m
Self-destruct time (mine): 3 – 100 hrs