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Sunday, May 26, 2024

‘Sensitive weapons and equipment’ stolen from US in Iraq, Syria: Report

'The Pentagon may be unaware of the scope of the thefts,' says US-based The Intercept

US military investigations have found that “sensitive weapons and equipment” were stolen from US outposts in Iraq and Syria, according to US media.

“The Pentagon may be unaware of the scope of the thefts,” The Intercept, an online news organization, reported Saturday.

“Military investigations launched earlier this year found that ‘multiple sensitive weapons and equipment’ — including guided missile launch systems as well as drones — have been stolen in Iraq,” it added.

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Earlier this year, The Intercept reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of military gear were purloined from US troops in Iraq and Syria between 2020 and 2022.

“In February, military investigators were notified that 13 commercial drones valued at about $162,500 were stolen from a US facility in Erbil, Iraq sometime last year,” it said. “The agents identified no suspects, and no leads are mentioned in the file.”

A separate investigation revealed that “multiple sensitive weapons and equipment” including targeting sights and launcher units for Javelin missiles were stolen at or en route to Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq, The Intercept reported.

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The investigators ruled out the possibility of insider involvement, noting in a criminal investigation file that “no known US personnel were involved” and that locals were the likely suspects.

“Iraqi criminal organizations and militia groups target convoys and containers for weapons and equipment,” The Intercept reported, citing the document. “Further, there have been systemic issues with US containers being pilfered by these groups and local nationals outside of Union III due to the lack of security.”

The publication said this was not the first theft or loss incident.

“A 2017 investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general found $20 million of weapons in Kuwait and Iraq were ‘vulnerable to loss or theft,’” it said.

In March, The Intercept reported about “at least four significant thefts and one loss of US weapons and equipment in Iraq and Syria from 2020 to 2022, including 40mm high-explosive grenades, armor-piercing rounds, specialized field artillery tools and equipment and unspecified ‘weapons systems’.”

“Two of the incidents took place at bases in Syria and three were in Iraq,” it said, adding US authorities failed to respond to any questions about weapons thefts in Iraq and Syria.

An audit dating back to 2020 also revealed that Special Operations Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, the main unit that works with America’s Syrian allies, did not properly account for $715.8 million worth of equipment purchased for those local surrogates, it added.