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US sends seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine

US sends seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine
epa10134544 (FILE) - Self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) militia monitors a section of the road near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, 20 July 2022. (Issued 23 August 2022). Ukraine marks, on 24 August 2022, six months since the war with Russia started. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO GUERRA ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET *** Local Caption *** 57821214

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. has transferred to Ukraine thousands of infantry weapons and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition that were seized more than a year ago as they were being shipped by Iran to Houthi forces in Yemen, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

By Jonathan Landay

The hardware sent last week is the latest military assistance that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has provided to Kyiv for its fight to retake territory occupied by Russia.

Democrat Biden has been blocked from providing further U.S. weaponry to Kyiv by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson’s refusal to call a vote on $60 billion in new security assistance.

With Ukrainian forces running low on weapons and munitions, especially heavy artillery rounds, the United States and its allies have been searching for new ways to arm Kyiv.

The weaponry transferred by the United States to Kyiv on April 4 “constituted enough materiel to equip” a Ukrainian brigade, U.S. Central Command said in a statement posted on social media platform X.

An infantry brigade typically comprises 3,500 to 4,000 troops, but the exact numbers were not known.

CENTCOM said the hardware included more than 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

The munitions were taken from four “stateless” vessels intercepted by U.S. naval ships and those of partner forces – which were not identified – between May 22, 2021 and Feb. 15, 2023, CENTCOM said.

The weapons were being sent by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to the Houthis, CENTCOM said.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Don Durfee and Cynthia Osterman)

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