Some initially thought the M113s had been stolen from the Lebanese military but U.S. officials say the vehicles shown in pictures are not the same model.
By Stephen Feller
QUSAYR, Syria, (UPI) -- The Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah showed off U.S.-made armored personnel carriers alongside Russian-made tanks in a military parade in Syria, but U.S. officials have no idea how they got them.
Images of the parade, held in Qusayr, Syria, are raising concern about terror groups in the Middle East using U.S. military armored personnel carriers distributed as part of aid to various nations in the region.
Some have suggested the vehicles were taken from the Lebanese Armed Forces, which the United States has been supporting in its battle against militant groups in Lebanon. Last summer, the United States gave the military about $50 million worth of equipment, including vehicles, grenade launchers and tons of ammunition.
The M113s pictured are outfitted with anti-aircraft guns known as ZPU-2s.
A U.S. State Department official told The Washington Post the vehicles in the photos are "unlikely" to have come from the Lebanese military, and Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood said, "The structural analysis of the vehicles in the picture" does not match those provided to Lebanon.
The M113 armored personnel carrier, or APC, is a tracked vehicle used to transport personnel and supplies while providing them protection against small arms and light weapons. They can be outfitted with a variety of light to medium weapons. It has been used in every major U.S. military conflict since the Vietnam War. The vehicles have been given or sold to other countries around the world as part of aid packages. They are also being used by many police departments in the United States.
U.S. officials say the M113 model Hezbollah has may have come from the Southern Lebanese Army, which Israel supplied with military equipment -- including 20 M113s -- from 1984 until 1996. Hezbollah may also have taken them from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which also obtained them from a source not yet identified by U.S. officials..