s many as nine US tanks provided to Iraq’s military for the fight against the Islamic State (IS) have ended up in the hands of Iranian-backed militants, a government audit revealed on Monday.
The latest quarterly inspector general report for the US mission in Iraq and Syria confirms a string of on-the-ground reports that M1 Abrams battle tanks and other lethal equipment provided by the US government have ended up with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). The news adds credence to recent reporting by Iraq’s Al-Ghad news agency that Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics has suspended maintenance support for 160 of its tanks amid allegations that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) broke an agreement on their use…
This isn’t the first time that US weapons, including vehicles, have found their way to Iran-backed groups. In 2015, Iraqi Hezbollah brigades showed up in YouTube videos driving American-made M1 Abrams tanks, armored personnel carriers, Humvees and Canadian MRAP all-terrain vehicles, sparking concerns from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.
The latest finding, disclosed by a State Department office that tracks US arms deliveries, is raising new questions among congressional oversight committees and weapons experts. One of their chief concerns is that Iran, which introduced complex improvised explosive devices into the Iraqi conflict, may pore over US military technology to look for battlefield flaws.
“Is there any sensitive technology that could be reverse engineered, picked apart and then used by the Iranian military to attack US armor? That may be the bigger concern than militias driving around in tanks,” Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher for Small Arms Survey, told Al-Monitor.