Iranian networks have been working to smuggle weapons from Iraq to Russia as Moscow’s plans to quickly invade Ukraine’s capital and topple the government failed to succeed, according to intelligence and sources familiar with the matter.
Among the weapons being transferred to Russia are Iran’s Bavar 373 missile system, the Guardian reported late Monday night.
Iraq’s Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Ḥashd al-Shaabi, reportedly dismantled and sent two Brazilian-designed Astros II rocket-launcher systems to Iran on April 1, the Guardian said.
The PMF sent rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles to Iran through the Salamja border crossing on March 26. From there, the Iranian military transferred the weapons to Russia by sea, the report cited a commander of the Iran-backed militia as saying.
“We don’t care where the heavy weapons go [because we don’t need them at the moment],” a PMF source told the Guardian. “Whatever is anti-US makes us happy.”
Russia has been hit by crushing economic sanctions from the US and Europe due to its invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its second month.
The sanctions targeted banks, oligarchs, Putin’s family and weapons manufacturers. It has been reported that Moscow is struggling to acquire needed weapons after being unable to take over Ukraine swiftly.
While the US has warned countries - most notably China - against trying to help Russia evade sanctions or provide it with weapons, US officials have not addressed such reports of weapons smuggling from Iran.
The Pentagon said it did not have any comment “as this would be related to intelligence assessments.”
Al Arabiya English has reached out to the State Department for comment.
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