Thieves have worked. Special documents obtained by The Intercept contain hundreds of thousands of dollars in artillery, an unspecified “weapons system” and special munitions intended for US forces in Syria and Iraq.
The thefts of remote U.S. mail in the region remain unsolved. From ISIS in Iraq to the Taliban in Afghanistan, they are the latest evidence of a continuing problem that has allowed enemy forces to arm themselves — and even kill Americans and their foreign allies.
The previously unreported theft shines a light on America’s shadow war, which last week killed an American contractor and wounded six others in an attack on a US military base in northeastern Syria. Kamikaze air strikes on the circuit It is known as RLZ He was one. About 80 attacks According to the American Iraq and Syria As of January 2021, the United States has accused Iranian proxy groups. President Joe Biden ordered Retaliatory airstrikes in response to the attack to “protect and protect our personnel”.
The thefts and losses revealed by The Intercept are the latest weapons liability woes to plague the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria. A 2020 audit The Pentagon’s inspector general found that the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, which works with America’s Syrian allies, mishandled $715.8 million in equipment purchased for local proxies.
The loss of weapons and ammunition is particularly significant – and the military is having a hard time protecting them. In the year In 2019, the U.S. pulled out of an army base near Kobani, Syria He conducted an airstrike on the bullets left behind. The army was destroyed Tools And Bullets In 2021, during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, groups like Amnesty International And Conflict weapon research For example, you have found a significant part Islamic State group Arsenal It was American-made or US-madeHe bought weapons and ammunition Captured, stolen or otherwise acquired from Iraqi forces and Syrian fighters.
Criminal investigation files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show evidence of at least four significant thefts in Iraq and Syria between 2020 and 2022 and the loss of one U.S. weapon, including 40mm high-explosive grenades. Special forces.
The joint Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, which oversees America’s wars in Iraq and Syria, doesn’t even know the scale of the problem.
“It’s shocking and tragic,” said Stephanie Savel, co-director of the Watson War Spending Project at Brown University. As we have seen in other wars and conflicts, these stolen weapons spread and intensify political and illegal violence and make it even more deadly.
The joint Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, which oversees America’s wars in Iraq and Syria, doesn’t even know the scale of the problem. The spokesperson said the task force has no history of theft. “[W]I don’t have the information requested,” Capt. Kevin T. Livingston, director of public affairs for CJTF-OIR, told The Intercept when asked if any weapons, ammunition or equipment had been stolen in the past five years.
Photo: Deleel Suleman/AFP via Getty Images
They are American soldiers. He was deployed to Iraq and Syria – side by side Iraqi security forces, Kurdish forcesand Syrian successors – to defeat ISIS, but they are also increasingly fighting. Militia groups supported by Iran By A Legally dark on the side War. The Americans sometimes operate on the basis of anonymity, and local allies like the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed Kurdish group, are not always reliable. With little foreign control or uncovered coverage of US operations, information about these conflicts is largely limited. Suspicious statements of American commandersMilitary Press releasesAnd Officially authorized reporting. Criminal investigation documents obtained by The Intercept provide a rare and rare glimpse into how the US wars in Iraq and Syria are being fought.
In late 2020 or early 2021, according to the files, “several specialized field artillery weapons and equipment” were stolen from a military vehicle while being transported to Erbil Airport in northern Iraq. When the truck arrived at a military base in that country’s Kurdistan Region, U.S. personnel discovered $87,335.35 worth of missing gear. According to the report of the investigation, “all the proactive leaders are exhausted.” No suspects were found.
By February 2021, 400 armor-piercing rounds and 42 40mm “high-explosive dual-purpose” grenades, which are “Able to penetrate three inches of steel” Ammunition was stolen from Special Forces at Mission Support Site Green Village in northeastern Syria. A criminal investigation found that “negligent ammunition handling and liability practices” allowed “person(s) unknown” to steal the ammunition, valued at $3,624.64.
Sometime in July or August 2021, “five weapons” worth a total of $48,115 were stolen from Mission Support Site Conoco – located not far from Green Village – while traveling in a “ground convoy” to RLZ, Syria. The equipment was taken from a shipping container. No witnesses were found or leads produced.
Last January, according to the documents, thieves broke into a shipping container en route to Iraq’s Erbil airport and stole more than $57,000 worth of unspecified military equipment and personal items. Four months later, about 2,100 full metal-jacketed rounds capable of piercing body armor and three boxes of unspecified “repair parts” were loaded onto a Blackhawk helicopter and flown to Erbil Airfield at Al Asad Airfield in Iraq. Personnel from a unit called Task Force Assault. The department, however, said it never received the shot, and launched an investigation. About a month later, task force raiders reportedly found 1,680 rounds of ammunition in a box of missing ammunition, but the records do not include the remaining ammunition and parts.
With the exception of the last charge, Army criminal investigators have determined there is reason to prosecute those responsible for possession of government property or government weapons — if only they can find the thieves.
Photo: Deleel Suleman/AFP via Getty Images
2020 Pentagon A list of improper accounting for more than $700 million in equipment purchased for U.S. allies in Syria revealed that special operations forces “did not maintain a comprehensive inventory of all equipment purchased and received,” according to the inspector general’s report. Another part of the audit revealed that the 1st Theater Maintenance Command improperly stockpiled equipment such as machine guns and grenade launchers. Both units have left “thousands of … devices and sensitive equipment vulnerable to loss or theft.” Due to haphazard record keeping and security measures, the 1st TSC was unable to even “determine whether items were lost or stolen.”
The loss of weapons and ammunition has become a constant problem for the Pentagon. In the year By the mid-2010s, the United States had lost hundreds of thousands of guns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Research A London-based charity run by Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence.
US troops have left $7 billion worth of military equipment in Afghanistan.
Even Before America was defeated in AfghanistanThe Taliban had captured large quantities of American weapons. When American troops left in 2021, they were left behind The price is 7 billion dollars Military equipment. The consequences are sometimes dire. From Afghanistan to Iraq, these were the weapons that America provided. Rise against American allies And maybe on American soldiers.
“Each of these weapons supplied to allied forces will be targeted by #ISIS.” said CJTF-OIR. 2017 Twitter. But CJTF-OIR does not appear to have any information about the thefts, let alone be certain that the stolen US weapons and ammunition were not directed at US forces or their allies between 2020 and 2022.
The U.S. military has a long-standing coverage of weapons losses. In the year In 2021 An Associated Press investigation found In the year At least 1,900 U.S. military weapons were lost or stolen in the 2010s, some of which were recovered through violent crimes and “hidden or understated the rate at which U.S. weapons are lost.” Understanding losses and thefts significantly … [a] A style of secrecy and suppression [that] “It’s been almost ten years,” he said.
The lack and transparency of CJTF-OIR records makes it impossible to determine how much of the U.S. military’s weapons have been lost or stolen in Syria and Iraq and whether those weapons have been used against U.S. troops or their allies, but the Save the War project fears the war’s history. He repeats himself. “A lot of people get hurt and killed because of that,” she said of the thefts recorded in criminal investigation records. “This is yet another resounding consequence of the United States’ military operations in many areas overseas.”
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