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Source: CNN

Apr 9, 2024

US transfers thousands of seized Iranian guns, rocket launchers and munitions to Ukraine

By Natasha Bertrand

The US transferred thousands of machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition seized from Iran to Ukraine last week, US Central Command announced on Tuesday.

Ukraine has been suffering from shortages of weapons and munitions on the battlefield in its war against Russia, with the US unable to send more equipment from its own stockpiles until more funding is approved by Congress.

CENTCOM said the materiel transferred to Ukraine is enough to equip one Ukrainian brigade — around 4,000 personnel — with small-arms rifles. “These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

The munitions were originally seized by the US military and its partners “from four separate transiting stateless vessels between 22 May 2021 to 15 Feb 2023,” but the US government did not obtain ownership of the equipment via the Justice Department’s civil forfeiture process until December of last year, CENTCOM said.

It is not the first time the US has transferred seized Iranian military equipment to the Ukrainians. The US transferred over one million rounds of seized Iranian ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces in October, CNN previously reported. 

Over the past year, the US Navy has seized thousands of Iranian assault rifles and more than one million rounds of ammunition from vessels used by Iran to ship weapons to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The seizures, frequently carried out with regional partner forces, target small stateless vessels on routes historically used to smuggle weapons to the Houthis.

For the last year, the Biden administration has been working to legally send the seized weapons, which are stored in CENTCOM facilities across the Middle East, to the Ukrainians.

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