US sent seized Iran weapons, ammo to Ukraine

WASHINGTON  -  Washington has given Ukraine small arms and ammunition that were seized while being sent from Iranian forces to Teh­ran-backed rebels in Ye­men, the US military said Tuesday. The transfer last week came as Ukraine suf­fers from significant short­ages of ammunition and US Republican lawmakers block new aid, but it does not address Kyiv’s need for key items such as artillery and air defense munitions.

“The US government transferred over 5,000 AK-47s, machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7s and over 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces” on Thursday, the US Cen­tral Command (CENTCOM) said on social media. “These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s in­vasion” and are enough ma­terial to equip a brigade, it said. The arms and ammu­nition were seized between May 2021 and February 2023 from four “stateless vessels” as the supplies were being transferred from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, CENTCOM said.

“The government ob­tained ownership of these munitions on December 1, 2023, through the Depart­ment of Justice’s civil for­feiture claims,” it said.

The Huthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in sol­idarity with Palestinians in Gaza -- a significant in­ternational security chal­lenge that threatens a ma­jor shipping lane. “Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security, our forces, diplomatic person­nel, and citizens in the re­gion, as well as those of our partners. We will con­tinue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilizing activities,” CENTCOM said.

Washington made a sim­ilar transfer to Ukraine in early October, provid­ing 1.1 million rounds of 7.62mm ammunition that was seized from Iranian forces on the way to Ye­men. But the delivery of crucial artillery and air de­fense munitions to Ukraine has been held up by Re­publican lawmakers who have stalled a $60 billion support package in the US Congress since last year, and Kyiv’s troops have had to ration ammunition amid uncertainty over when the next deliveries will arrive.

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