Six Experts to Watch on Weapons in Syria

In the next installment of our “Experts to Watch” series, we highlight six experts spreading news and analysis about the flow and use of weapons in Syria by all sides fighting in the conflict.

Written by Eline Gordts Published on Read time Approx. 3 minutes
A Free Syrian Army member attacks ISIS positions during the "Operation Euphrates Shield" at Al-Bab district in Aleppo, Syria on January 14, 2017.Muhammed Nour/Anadolu Agency

BEIRUT – In late November, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that will allow the Trump administration to provide shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles or MANPADS to Syrian opposition forces, despite a U.S. policy prohibiting the distribution of such weapons to nonstate actors.

The flow and use of weapons in Syria – whether by the Assad regime, militants of ISID, the rebels or other fighting groups – has been the subject of intense and detailed research.

Below are some of the people doing excellent work on weapons in Syria. There are many more. Because of the sensitive nature of this field, however, many prefer not to be identified.

Alexandra Hiniker

Alexandra Hiniker is the U.N. representative for PAX, a Dutch peace organization. She focuses on the protection of civilians in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, including humanitarian disarmament and arms control policies. Hiniker has addressed the U..N General Assembly on a range of disarmament issues relevant to Syria, including landmines, cluster munitions, explosive weapons and toxic remnants of war. Before opening the PAX New York office in 2012, she spent five years working on humanitarian disarmament issues in some of the world’s most bombed and mined countries, first with the United Nations in Cambodia, and then with the Cluster Munition Coalition in Laos, followed by Lebanon. Hiniker’s work also involves advocating to lift sieges in Syria through Siege Watch, a joint initiative of PAX and the Syria Institute. She is on Twitter at @AlexHiniker.

Nawar Oliver

Nawar Oliver is a military researcher and a military mapper at the Omran Center, a think tank based in Istanbul. His work is focused on military developments in the MENA regions and various groups fighting in Syria. For the past three years, he’s been monitoring anti-tank missile hits in the war-torn country. He has also studied Russian warplanes and missile range. He is on Twitter at @nawaroliver.

Erin Hunt

Erin Hunt is the program coordinator at Mines Action Canada and a senior researcher for the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor as well as an expert with the Forum on the Arms Trade. She has been working in humanitarian disarmament in various capacities since 2006 and doing public education on the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines since 2003. Hunt’s areas of expertise include the humanitarian impact of landmines and cluster munitions, particularly in Syria and Yemen, as well as the Ottawa Treaty. She researches casualties of landmines, improvised mines and cluster munitions in Syria for the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. She’s on Twitter at @ErinLynnHunt.

Mark Hiznay

Mark Hiznay is the associate director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch
(HRW) where he provides expertise on military operations and weapons technology. His work centers on identifying weapons, advocating for new treaty law, and documenting the effective implementation of multilateral disarmament processes. Hiznay’s team at HRW has put out numerous reports and dispatches about the violence in Syria, including an October 2016 report on the use of improvised mines in Manbij. He’s on Twitter at @MarkHiznay.

Kinda Haddad

Kinda Haddad is a Dutch-Syrian journalist who monitors claims of civilian casualties from coalition and Russian airstrikes in Syria for Airwars.org, a not-for-profit transparency project aimed at tracking and archiving the international air war against the so-called Islamic State and other groups, in both Iraq and Syria. Haddad is a former BBC Panorama journalist and the founder of Bulbula, which seeks to improve the representation of expert Middle Eastern women in the media.

Matt Schroeder

Matt Schroeder is a senior researcher at the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a research center generating knowledge on all aspects of small arms and armed violence. Schroeder covers arms trafficking, illicit weapons and conventional weapons threat mitigation. He has done extensive research on the use of MANPADS in Syria and is the author of a 2014 issue brief: “Fire and Forget: The Proliferation of Man-portable Air Defence Systems in Syria.” He is on Twitter @MSchroeder77.

More in our Experts to Watch Series

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