Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hezbollah Militia Using American-Supplied Tanks In Iraq Battles

Vocativ
June 8, 2015

Last week they paraded men they’d captured in Anbar province as ISIS fighters who were now their prisoners. This week Iraqi Hezbollah, a Shiite militia group that has joined other units to fight alongside Iraqi security forces to retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS, broadcast footage of its fighters at the helm of Abrams tanks, supplied to Iraq by the U.S. military.
The Abrams tanks with the militia’s logo were caught on a video showing the battle between ISIS and the Shiite militias in Anbar province, at the outskirts of Ramadi. It’s not clear if those tanks were given to the group by Iraqi security forces or whether they were some of those that ISIS militants seized as they themselves captured territory, hauling with them whatever military equipment that was left behind.
The Pentagon said it could not verify the images. In a statement to Vocativ, the Pentagon said it had been assured by the Iraqi government and its military that U.S. equipment would be used according to the bilateral agreements that supplied them to Baghdad. “If we receive reports that U.S.-origin equipment is being misused or provided to unauthorized users, we engage the Iraqi government in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy to address any confirmed issues — up to the highest levels, if necessary,” the Pentagon said.
When ISIS drove into Mosul last year, the Iraqi army quickly capitulated, many soldiers leaving their uniforms behind, along with stockpiles of weapons and hundreds of U.S.-supplied humvees and tanks
Hezbollah’s presence in Anbar is the latest development in what is becoming an increasingly sectarian battle against ISIS. The Shiite militias, fighting under a single umbrella, have declared the new campaign to take ISIS as “Labayk ya Hussein,” which translates into “in your service, Hussein,” after one of the Shiites’ most revered imams, or saints. The openly sectarian label was deemed“unhelpful” by the Pentagon, as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is struggling to implement unification laws and stress national unity in the face of deepening sectarian division.
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