Hezbollah has U.S. armored personnel carriers. But how did they get them?

Washington Post – by Thomas Gibbons-Neff

Over the weekend images surfaced online of a Hezbollah parade in Qusair, Syria, featuring U.S. armored personnel carriers affixed with antiaircraft guns. The images prompted a flurry of speculation about the vehicles’ origin and whether the group had pilfered the stocks of the U.S.-supplied Lebanese military.

The armored personnel carrier, known as the M113, is one of the United States’ most ubiquitous armored vehicles and has been in service since the 1960s. The tracked semi-rhombus-shape vehicle comes in numerous variants and can be outfitted to carry troops and artillery; its chassis was even used as the basis for a nuclear-missile carrier. It has appeared in every major U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War and is used by U.S. police departments and dozens of others countries’ militaries around the world.  

As a prominent political and military entity in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s possession of the vehicles could support the theory floated by the defense analyst Tobias Schneider, who tweeted that the personnel carriers were probably taken from the Lebanese Armed Forces, a major recipient of U.S. military aid.

Over the summer, the Lebanese military took possession of dozens of pieces of artillery, armored vehicles, semiautomatic grenade launchers and 1,000 tons of ammunition — all worth about $50 million — as part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to bolster the country’s capacity to fight extremists. The shipment, overseen by the Pentagon and the State Department, brought the amount of U.S. military aid sent to Lebanon in 2016 to $221 million, according to U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth H. Richard.

While Lebanese smugglers have helped move weapons and ammunition to opposition groups in Syria, cases of Lebanese military equipment appearing in the conflict have been rare. In a tweet, the Lebanese military denied that the M113s were taken from its stocks, a claim backed up by a State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue.

“The Lebanese military has publicly stated that the M113s depicted online were never part of their equipment roster,” the official said. “Our initial assessment concurs: The M113s allegedly in Hezbollah’s possession in Syria are unlikely to have come from the Lebanese military. We are working closely with our colleagues in the Pentagon and in the Intelligence Community on to resolve this issue.”

Closely aligned with Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Syrian government troops since the beginning of the conflict.

The Hezbollah M113s appear to be an older variant, and U.S. officials said they are inclined to believe that vehicles came from the disintegration of the Southern Lebanese Army, or SLA. The SLA was an Israeli-allied and supplied Christian militia that fought during the Lebanese Civil War and whose military equipment was ultimately absorbed by Hezbollah in the early 2000s when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.

In 1985, Israel supplied 20 M113s to the SLA, according to arms transfer data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. From 1984 to 1996, Israel provided more than 130 armored vehicles, tanks and artillery pieces to the SLA, according to the data. Another possibility, as pointed out by Schneider in subsequent tweets, is that Hezbollah took them from Syria’s recently renamed al-Qaeda affiliate, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. It is unclear where al-Nusra got its M113s.

U.S. equipment falling into the hands of extremist groups and regional opponents has been a recurring theme in the Middle East and southwest Asia for the past 15 years as American wares have been distributed wholesale to those willing to fight for U.S. causes. Armored vehicles, weapons, night vision devices and body armor have been diverted from places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, subsequently showing up on battlefields throughout the region.


6 thoughts on “Hezbollah has U.S. armored personnel carriers. But how did they get them?

  1. “Hezbollah has U.S. armored personnel carriers. But how did they get them?”

    Rewards points at Bombs R Us.

  2. But how did they get them? Really? How about everything listed in this article plus covert arms dealers. Personally, i like hezbollah. They’re the only faction actually fighting israel. Why is this coming out now? Are we to believe the mighty U.S. and MOSSAD didn’t know or have any photos before? Or maybe my next prediction of the war I said would come either with Lebanon or Iran is in the “let’s get the public on board with this war” stages? Oh I do think so. Oded yinon plan

    1. I thought the way Hezbollah dealt with the Israeli scum back in 2006 was nothing short of awesome. I’m sure you know how the Israeli cowards were fought to a standstill in spite of all their superior weaponry. But even more, the final death toll on Israel’s side was overwhelmingly soldiers, while most of the people Israel killed were civilians. If the Israelis were capable of shame or possessed any sort of moral compass, they would have committed mass suicide after a performance like that.

      The 2006 conflict also showed that clever preparation, combined with good strategy and tactics, can offset an enemy’s full-spectrum materiel advantages. Of course we’ve see that happen quite a bit in the JewSA’s serial wars of aggression.

  3. So Hezbollah got some US equipment? Excellent. Hopefully they’ll put it to good use in their struggle against the fascist, Nazi-inspired regime known as “Israel” the next time the latter goes on one of its child-butchering rampages in pursuit of lebensraum. God knows the Israelis get plenty of money and military gear from the US to be used for that purpose.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.