Making a Killing

Central and Eastern European governments have directed an unprecedented flow of weapons and ammunition to four key backers of Syria’s armed opposition since the escalation of the bloody civil war in 2012.

A yearlong investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reveal for the first time the emergence of an €1.2 billion arms pipeline fueling conflict in the Middle East, causing untold human suffering.

It is a trade that is almost certainly illegal, experts say.


The Coyote’s Trail: A Machine Gun’s Path from Serbia to Syria

"How a batch of heavy machine guns travelled illegally from a Serbian state-owned factory to Syrian rebels via a Bulgarian arms tycoon and a Saudi military base manned by US intelligence personnel."

A Bulgarian Arms Broker with a History of Controversial Deals

"Saudi Arabia bought Serbian-made Coyote machine gun through BIEM, a Bulgarian firm owned by Petar Mandjoukov, a long-time arms dealer, media tycoo,n and a former agent of the Communist-era State Security."

Croatian Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Fuel Syrian War

"Zagreb sold a record amount of aging weapons and ammunition to Saudi Arabia in 2016, ignoring evidence the arms are regularly being diverted to Syria."

EU: We’re tracking Balkan arms flow to Syria

"The European Union’s foreign policy unit is monitoring the flow of weapons to the Middle East and into the hands of Islamist groups in Syria, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), following an investigation by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN)."

Montenegro Opens Weapons Supply Line to Saudi Arabia

"An arms broker who sold almost 300 tons of aging Yugoslav-era weapons and ammunition to Saudi Arabia says “It’s no concern of mine” if the Gulf kingdom later diverts them to Syria."

Serbia’s Vucic Defends Mideast Arms Sales: “I Adore It When We Export Arms”

Serbian Prime Minister Aleskandar Vucic has defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in response to OCCRP/BIRN revelations that Serbia was among countries that approved the export of at least €1.2 billion in weapons to states backing Syrian rebels.

Making a Killing: The €1.2 Billion Arms Pipeline to Middle East

An unprecedented flow of weapons from Central and Eastern Europe is flooding the battlefields of the Middle East.

The Middle East Airlift

Dozens of cargo flights have transported thousands of tons of Soviet-style weapons and ammunition between Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the past year, most likely headed to the war in Syria.

Arms Exports to Middle East: A Question of Legality

Arms and human rights experts question the legality of Central and Eastern Europe’s rocketing arms trade with the Middle Eastern states backing Syrian rebels.