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9 US Abrams tanks ended up in Iranian-backed militias fighting ISIS in Iraq

U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division ride in an M1A1 Abrams tank to an objective during exercise Gold Eagle 2013 at the Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Sept. 14, 2013. (DoD photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
February 08, 2018

Nine M1A1 Abrams tanks provided to Iraq’s military during the fight against ISIS wound up in the hands of Iranian-backed militias, according to the Defense Department Inspector General’s quarterly report.

Popular Mobilization Forces [PMF] obtained the tanks “originally provided by the United States to the Iraqi Army, [including] some tanks seized by the PMF from ISIS after the fall of Mosul and the second battle of Tikrit,” the report reads.

“The DoS [Department of State] pressed the Iraqi government to prioritize the return of defense articles provided by the United States as designated in the sale agreements,” the report reads. “The DoS reported that the Iraqi government continued to address this issue and had obtained the return of several tanks to Iraqi Army control from the PMF during the quarter.”

Iraq’s Al-Ghad news agency recently reported that the tank’s manufacturers, General Dynamics, suspended maintenance support for the tanks over the loss of the tanks.

Despite the reports, Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon told Military Times that the “Abrams maintenance program for the Iraqi Security Forces [ISF] remains active.”

“The challenges for the DoS and DoD [Department of Defense] to account for the whereabouts of arms and equipment transferred to the ISF have grown since the fight to drive ISIS from Iraq,” the report reads. “During the past quarter, the DoS reported that it continued to stress to the Iraqi government that it had an obligation to maintain U.S.-origin equipment under the operational control of the end-user designated in the sale agreement.”

The tanks were sold to Iraq’s military as a part of the Foreign Military Sales program.

“The U.S. Departments of State and Defense cooperate closely to ensure the responsible transfer of equipment and training to host-nation forces in Iraq,” Pahon told Military Times.. “We will continue to screen and vet all forces that receive U.S.-origin defense equipment and conduct end-use monitoring in order to ensure that this equipment remains in the possession of the designated end-user.”

“We continue to stress to the Government of Iraq, as we do to all allies and partners, their obligation to maintain U.S.-origin equipment under the operational control of the designated end-user,” he added.

Over “the past two fiscal years, the DoS used FMF funds to support the ISF’s acquisition of military equipment and materiel totaling $3.8 billion for its fight against ISIS,” the report reads.