US gives Ukraine seized Iranian weapons that were headed to Houthis

by Tommy Grant

The U.S. redirected thousands of weapons to Ukraine earlier this month that it seized from an Iranian group attempting to smuggle the munitions to Yemen’s Houthi militants, the Middle East-based U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.

More than 5,000 AK-47 rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket launchers, as well as more than 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, were transferred to the Ukrainian armed forces on April 4, according to CENTCOM.

“These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion,” the command said in a social media post.

The move comes as Ukraine has run low on munitions to defend itself, and as the U.S. seeks to disrupt Iran’s efforts to bolster proxy groups like the Houthis that threaten regional security.

The Houthis have launched launched near-daily attacks on commercial and military ships in the Middle East since the fall.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tried to send munitions to the Houthis between May 2021 and February 2023, but the shipments, which CENTCOM said were in violation of a U.N. arms embargo, were seized by the U.S. and partner forces.

This is not the first time the U.S. has transferred confiscated Iranian military equipment to Ukraine. In October, it sent approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds of ammunition, according to the Department of Justice.

While a decision to send additional aid from the U.S. remains an unanswered question by Congress, Ukraine’s armed forces continue rationing supplies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged lawmakers Tuesday to pass supplemental funding to support Kyiv as quickly as possible.

“It’s imperative,” he said during a press conference.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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