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‘US military lost track of $1bn worth of weapons’

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Press TV

The US military has admitted to losing track of around $1 billion worth of weapons in Iraq and Kuwait, according to a US Defense Department audit reviewed by Amnesty International.

In the September 2016 document, which was obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, the Pentagon stated that it “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a large amount of weapons it had moved into Iraq and Kuwait to arm the Iraqi government forces, Amnesty reported Wednesday.

The transfers were part of the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) program and following appropriation by Congress of $1.6 billion to allegedly stop Daesh (ISIL)’s advances in 2015.

The items included tens of thousands of assault rifles worth $28 million, hundreds of mortar rounds and hundreds of Humvee armored vehicles.

The Pentagon audit found that personnel in charge of tracking the ITEF weapons often logged them “across multiple spreadsheets, databases and even on hand-written receipts.”

The faulty records-keeping also meant that people in charge of locating the weapons or determining their status would not be able to do so.

According to the document, the Pentagon had no responsibility for tracking the items after handing them over to Iraqi authorities.

This amounts to a clear violation of the department’s own Golden Sentry program, which requires the Pentagon to perform post-delivery checks.

Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty’s arms control and human rights researcher, said the government audit shows how “flawed – and potentially dangerous” the US military’s controlling mechanisms are for overseeing the transfer of weapons in a “hugely volatile region.”

“It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq,” including Daesh (ISIL), he added.

“The need for post-delivery checks is vital. Any fragilities along the transfer chain greatly increase the risks of weapons going astray in a region where armed groups have wrought havoc and caused immense human suffering,”  Wilcken further argued.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said June last year that of the thousands of armored vehicles supplied by the US to Iraqi security forces, some 2,300 or two-thirds of them had fallen into the hands ISIL and the group was turning them into moving bombs.

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