Islamist militants with the newly renamed "Islamic State" paraded military hardware through the streets of a Syrian town on Monday, including what appeared to be a Scud missile, tanks and armored personnel carriers seized from government forces.
The group — which announced it is rebranding itself from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to simply the "Islamic State" — has made wide territorial gains in both Syria and neighboring Iraq and has also grabbed copious amounts of military equipment, ranging from automatic weapons to American-made Humvees and even helicopters, according to some reports.
Video and photos from the parade show masked men standing on a truck carrying the Scud and on top of tanks – reported to be T-55s, according to the British Telegraph newspaper – and waving black Islamic State flags.
Cars driving behind the military hardware waved black flags and honked in celebration.
Several scholars who study the war zone cast doubt on the efficacy of the ballistic missile, including these comments:
The only danger that Islamic State scud is to anyone at the moment is if they accidentally run over a pedestrian showing it off.— Eliot Higgins (@Eliot Higgins)1404156469.0
All you should really take from the Islamic State Scud is they are showing off a giant phallic symbol to show how powerful they are— Eliot Higgins (@Eliot Higgins)1404156731.0
The 'Islamic State' proudly paraded an inoperable Scud ballistic missile in #Raqqa today. It’s 99% useless. #Syria http://t.co/OwRsc2BY1i— Charles Lister (@Charles Lister)1404151923.0
Whether it actually works or not, parading the missile likely sent a chilling statement to potential opponents and residents of Raqqa, the capital of the newly declared caliphate where strict Shariah law is being implemented, including banning alcoholic drinks and limiting the public practice of Christianity.
The missile on display was reportedly captured more than a year ago, as suggested in this blog post that was linked to by several Syria and Iraq-scholars.
The Middle East Media Research Institute reported that the video was posted online on Monday and that the Scud bears the inscription, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (Syria or the Levant).”