US Abrams tanks sold to Iraq have been used by a pro-Iranian paramilitary group in fighting against the Islamic State group in Syria, the Pentagon said Friday.
The tanks, however, were later returned to the Iraqi military, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.
M1 Abrams tanks have been sold to Iraq over the past decade, Pahon said, but Washington “has not provided defense articles to the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which are part of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) by law.”
The PMF, or Hashed al-Shaabi, is a paramilitary group with close ties to Tehran, and was actively engaged in combat against the IS in Syria.
“We have discovered incidents where some US origin equipment, including M1 Abrams tanks, came into the possession of certain PMF groups. This equipment was subsequently used by these groups” in the fight against the IS jihadists.
“All of these tanks were recently returned to Iraqi Security Forces custody,” Pahon said.
The Islamic State group, composed of Sunni extremists, seized large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, declaring a cross-border “caliphate” and committing widespread atrocities.
Backed by a US-led coalition, Iraqi forces have gradually retaken all territory lost to the jihadists.
Iraq’s parliament considers the PMF to be a state force operating within the framework of the constitution.
The various forces within the Hashed — established in 2014 following a religious call for Shiites to take up arms against IS jihadists — have between 60,000 and 140,000 fighters.
Washington remains wary of Tehran’s influence over those units.
“We will continue to screen and vet all forces that receive US-origin defense equipment … to ensure that this equipment remains in the possession of the designated end-user,” Pahon said.
The spokesman also denied press reports that the Abrams manufacturer, General Dynamics, had canceled its maintenance contract with Iraq.
“The Abrams maintenance program for the Iraqi Security Forces remains active,” Pahon said.
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The report states, "GOP leaders have spent months cajoling President Trump in favor of a bipartisan budget deal that would fund the government and raise the limit on federal borrowing this fall, but their efforts have yet to produce a deal."
Trump Twitter-snarls at ‘Impeachment Day’ protesters as the product of ‘Radical Left Democrats’
President Donald Trump lashed out at Impeachment Day protesters on Twitter on Sunday morning, downplaying their efforts after seeing a report on Fox News.
Taking to Twitter the president wrote, "Yesterday was the Radical Left Democrats big Impeachment day. They worked so hard to make it something really big and special but had one problem - almost nobody showed up. “The Media admits low turnout for anti-Trump rallies ...saying enough. Democrat voters want to hear the politicians talking about issues. This is a huge distraction and will only help Donald Trump get elected. 'Greatest President since Ronald Reagan' said a counter-protester. LehighValleyLive."
Trump’s first term: hits and misses
"Promises made, promises kept," goes one of President Donald Trump's main 2020 reelection slogans. Is that true?
Here are some of the key policy hits and misses -- comparing his accomplishments to his promises -- from a tumultuous first term.
- HITS -
The economy will be Trump's major selling point.
GDP grew 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019 and the last recession was a decade ago. Unemployment is at a 50-year low of 3.6 percent.
Trump's frequent claim that the economy is probably "the best" in US history is an exaggeration, though.
Economists see growing dangers, including exploding government debt and growing backlash from Trump's aggressive trade policies, especially with China.