Iraqi militias smuggle weapons to Russia via Iran – Middle East Monitor

Weapons from Iraq are being smuggled into Russia with the help of Iran and its militant groups across the Middle East, a report by The Guardian newspaper has revealed.

Citing intelligence sources and members of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, the newspaper reported that a number of heavy weapons – including missile defense systems and anti-tank missiles – were sent to Russia by a land and sea route with the aim of helping Moscow. with its military offensive in Ukraine.

Weapons carried include RPGs [rocket-propelled grenade launchers]Brazilian-designed rocket launcher systems, an Iranian-made Bavar 373 missile system, as well as a Russian-made S-300 air defense system.

According to the newspaper, which cites a militia commander who helped with the transport, the weapons – which came from the Popular Mobilization Forces, the umbrella group of Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq, first crossed the Iraqi border to Iran via the Salamja border post on March 26. They were then received by the Iranian army and transported by sea to Russia.

An example of one of the shipments was cited by the newspaper as involving three cargo ships – two Russian-flagged and one Iranian-flagged – carrying the heavy loads and crossing the Caspian Sea from the northern port of Bandar Anzali. Iran, at the Russian port of Astrakhan. .

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A PMF source told the newspaper that the main reason they help smuggle arms into Russia is because “anything anti-American makes us happy.” Another reason, however, is that “we don’t care where the heavy weapons go” because they don’t need them right now.

The Russian forces, however, badly need it. According to Yörük Işık, an Istanbul-based maritime affairs expert quoted by the Guardian, “What the Russians need in Ukraine right now are missiles. These require skill to transport them because they are fragile and explosives…Also not the kind of activity that would be picked up by satellite imagery as they can be carried in large boxes and regular shipping containers.”

As for Iran’s main motive for covertly assisting Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine, it would be due to the potentially disastrous impact that a Russian defeat would have on Iran, particularly in Syria. Despite Tehran’s and Moscow’s subtle rivalry in Syria, where both vie for more control over the country and influence over Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, their overall interests and goals are interconnected in the form of their “axis of resistance” against Western hegemony.

As Mohaned Hage Ali, a researcher at the Carnegie Middle East Center, said: “If Putin’s regime is destabilized, it has huge implications for Iran, especially in Syria, where Damascus depends on Russian air support and the Russia coordinates to avoid direct conflict between them and Israel. »

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