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US sends seized Iran ammunition to Ukraine

October 4, 2023 at 7:50 pm

Soldiers from 57th Brigade of Ukrainian Army prepare 73mm grenade ammunitions for the military training at a shooting range in Donbas region, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on September 21, 2023 [Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

The US has sent Ukraine more than 1 million rounds of Iranian ammunition that had been seized last year, the US military said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

US naval forces, for years, have been seizing weapons believed to be from Iran bound for Iran-backed fighters in Yemen, usually transported by fishing vessels.

US Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East, said about 1.1 million 7.62 mm rounds were sent to Ukraine.

They were originally seized by US naval forces in December 2022 and being transferred from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Houthi forces in Yemen.

“The US is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal aid in the region by all lawful means, including US and UN sanctions and through interdictions,” the Central Command statement said.

The ammunition is unlikely to make a major difference on the battlefield at a time when long-range weapons and air defence systems are on top of Ukraine’s wish list.

The seized ammunition being transferred is also unlikely to ease concerns about the continued flow of western weapons to Kyiv.

Congress included no new money for Ukraine in the stopgap US spending bill it passed on Saturday to keep the federal government open, highlighting the increasing reluctance of some Republicans to provide funds for Kyiv.

Last year, Britain’s Royal Navy said one of its warships had seized Iranian weapons, including surface-to-air-missiles and engines for cruise missiles, from smugglers in international waters south of Iran.

Yemen’s Houthi movement has battled a Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80 per cent of the population dependent on aid.

The United States has put pressure on its ally, Saudi Arabia, to end the war and linked some US military support to the Kingdom to ending its involvement in Yemen.

READ: US seeks to keep Yemen-bound ammunition seized from Iran