Threat Analysis: IS Marksmen in Sinai

Soon after the release of the so-called Islamic State’s marksmen shots video (discussed in-depth here), the terrorist organization released another video but this montage focused on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. The largest difference between the two is the enemy faced and the tactical employment of the IS marksmen teams. In the Sinai IS affiliated shooters are facing troops who are heavily armed compared with the Kurds in Kirkuk. Although these troops are better armed, their counter-sniper tactics, behavior, and reactions under fire aren’t that much better than the Kurdish volunteers that were seen earlier. As an example, we are seeing Egyptian troops at the very same positions and outposts taking far too many casualties than they should be.

Granted, the first several soldiers to be hit by IS marksmen are a part of the occupation they are currently in. However, once a platoon size element starts taking on those casualties, it is the responsibility of the NCOs and officers to harden those structures, impose daytime curfews, fill more sandbags, send out early morning patrols, ensuring soldiers have proper protective equipment on, possibly creating loophole observation posts. Much of this doesn’t appear to be taking place at all, soldiers are lazing around on post without their precious armor on. During reactions to contact unit leaders aren’t communicating, pointing out where soldiers were hit and where to stay away from. In one scene the armored doors on a tactical vehicle practically stay open for all of a contact, completely exposing the soldiers inside to fire.

The situation from the IS side is very different than the shooters in Kirkuk. In the Sinai there aren’t any tracer rounds being used for the benefit of the camera. Shooters are shown with a much lower profile and taking advantage of their surroundings through the use of concealment, creating holes and loopholes in brush. Small arms used appear to at least one Romanian PSL in addition to possibly SVDs of various origins, commercial hunting rifles, and in one situation what looks like an Iranian HS-50 anti-material rifle in an exchange of gunfire with several tracked armored vehicles.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

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  • 22winmag

    Take that second shot and give up your position.

    I dare you.

  • FormFactor

    Those small towers should be more solid and he not staying around, just give him a chair, and a MIRROR construction! So he can watch 360• without being in the open.

  • Saumya Supratik

    Wasn’t aware the PSL is a SVD derivative. 😀

    • adicontakt .

      well is not , theay are very different

  • 11b

    Surprised you didn’t bring up the 1,000 American troops in Sinai. I wont get into the details here but suffice it to say the OPs we occupy there are not meant to deal with this threat- it’s an observation not a combat mission. There are a bunch of other nationalities on the MFO mission as well and in even worse spots with less equipment. Bad spot to be in.

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    Bolt action rifle with handle on the left?


    • Spencerhut

      Looks like a Savage

  • mazkact

    Ammo crates for cover…………………………………………………..

    • MD

      Empty and filled with sand.

      • B. Young

        Sand, that’s great but they have a nice little slot between each box. Should prop them up at an angle and stack them more like bricks, staggered…