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Saudi coalition handed over US arms to hardline militants in Yemen: Report

Saudi Arabia and UAE violated trade agreements by handing over weapons to local Yemeni groups
Houthi officials allege that Iran is assessing the captured US technology (AFP)
Houthi officials allege that Iran is assessing the captured US technology (AFP)

Saudi Arabia and its allies have handed over US-made weapons to Al-Qaeda-linked militias and other hardline groups fighting in Yemen's civil war, US news channel CNN reported on Tuesday.

Serial numbers and footage obtained by CNN showed that heavy weaponry sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was passed down to hardline militias as part of its war effort in Yemen.

Some of these arms were later captured by Houthi rebels after they were left abandoned or sold to other groups.

Abu Dhabi and Riyadh had reportedly given the arms to curry favour and loyalty among local groups fighting in Yemen.

Among the weapons given to these groups by Saudi Arabia and the UAE include Mine-Resistant Armoured Protection Vehicles (MRAP) and Oshkosh armoured vehicles - military hardware that is used by the US army. 

Broken trade agreements

US defence officials who spoke to CNN said the UAE and Saudi Arabia had violated the terms of its defence agreement by handing over arms to third parties.

The defence officials added that there was an ongoing investigation into the matter. 

Footage taken by CNN showed bombed-out MRAP vehicles plastered with insignia from the Giant Brigade - a hardline Salafi faction - near the port city of Hodeidah.

Serial numbers from one MRAP showed that the vehicle was part of a $2.5 billion sale to the UAE in 2014.  

Meanwhile, footage from local news channels in 2015 showed the Abu Abbas Brigade, an Al-Qaeda linked group, in possession of a US-made Oshkosh armoured vehicle. 

US weapons passed onto Iran 

A Houthi official, who works for a secret unit backed by Iran, told CNN that Iranian and Hezbollah agents had obtained the US-made armoured vehicles and other military hardware. 

"Iranian intelligence is assessing US military technology very closely," the source told CNN. "There isn't a single American weapon that they don't try to find out its details, what it's made of, how it works."

These latest revelations come as the US Congress debate on whether it should force an end to the Trump administration's support for the Saudi coalition. 

America is the largest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with both countries relying heavily on the US weapons to supply its war effort in Yemen.