Update 150926: A release yesterday from US CENTCOM has stated that the image of the rifle was taken while in the possession of Division 30, making it unlikely that it had in fact been seized by Jabhat al-Nusra. However, CENTCOM did confirm earlier reports that claimed some US-trained and equipped fighters had surrendered materiel to Jabhat al-Nusra, including vehicles and ammunition.
Update 150924: Division 30 have claimed that these weapons remain under their control. Al-Nusra sources have so far refused to provide images of serial numbers to support their claims.
Last month, ARES documented the presence of a US-made Mk 14 EBR series rifle in Syria, in the hands of the US-trained Free Syrian Army’s Division 30. A social media post made less than an hour ago by an account believed to be used by a Dutch Jabhat al-Nusra fighter in Syria shows an M14EBR-RI, the same model previously documented in the possession of Division 30. The tweet reads “Look what I found bhahahahahahahahaha!! Stupid Americans”, implying these weapons are now in the hands of Al-Nusra. Division 30 are likely to have received these weapons as part of a US-administered ‘train and equip’ programme. Earlier reports that Jabhat al-Nusra had killed and abducted fighters from Division 30 are supplemented by recent reports that suggest Division 30 surrendered weapons and other materiel to Jabhat al-Nusra fighters earlier this week.
Look what I found bhahahahahahahahaha!! Stupid Americans pic.twitter.com/Awud0JhxUa
— Ahmed Shaheed (@ahmedshaheed_97) September 23, 2015
As noted in ARES’ earlier post, the Mk 14 EBR series are self-loading rifles chambered for 7.62 x 51 mm and typically employed as designated marksman rifles (DMR). Originally introduced by the US Navy, Mk 14 series rifles have since been produced for other US service branches and sold to foreign allies. The model pictured appears to have been produced by Rock Island Arsenal, in Illinois. Minor diagnostic details such as the type of optic, scope mount, bipod, and other components distinguish it from other models. It is designated as the M14EBR-RI, and some 6,200 examples were fielded by the US Army.
Mk 14 EBR series rifles have also been documented in the hands of Islamic State fighters in Iraq. These are thought to have been captured from Iraqi security forces who, in turn, received them from the United States.
Remember, all arms and munitions are dangerous. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded, and all munitions as if they are live, until you have personally confirmed otherwise. If you do not have specialist knowledge, never assume that arms or munitions are safe to handle until they have been inspected by a subject matter specialist. You should not approach, handle, move, operate, or modify arms and munitions unless explicitly trained to do so. If you encounter any unexploded ordnance (UXO) or explosive remnants of war (ERW), always remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:
AVOID the area
RECORD all relevant information
MARK the area to warn others
SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities