Video shows Hezbollah Brigades convoy transporting American M1 tank


American-made M1 Abrams shown flying the Hezbollah Brigades’ flag while being transported by the group.

A video uploaded to YouTube appears to show a large Hezbollah Brigades convoy transporting weapons, troops, and armored vehicles to the front to fight the Islamic State.

Several American-made military vehicles, including an M1 Abrams tank, M113 armored personnel carriers, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP), as well as Iranian-made Safir 4x4s and technicals (armed pickup trucks) are in the convoy.

The Hezbollah Brigades is US-designated foreign terrorist organization that has been involved in killing American soldiers in Iraq.

At one point in the video, a transport truck is shown carrying an M1 Abrams tank. The Hezbollah Brigades’ flag is flying over the tank and other US-made vehicles. The M1, which is the main battle tank of the US Army, has been sold to and utilized by the Iraqi Army.

The screen shot above marks the first evidence of Iranian-backed militias having M1 tanks at their disposal. It is unclear if the Hezbollah Brigades seized the M1 from an Iraqi Army unit that dissolved in the face of the Islamic State’s onslaught, or if the Iraqi military gave the militia the tank. Several Iraqi M1s have been photographed after being destroyed by the Islamic State.

The Hezbollah Brigades, or Kata’ib Hezbollah, receives funding, training, logistics, guidance, and material support from the Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The radical militia has joined the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. In addition, other Iranian-supported Shia militias, such as Asaib al Haq, Badr Organization, and Muqtada al Sadr’s Promised Day Brigades have played a prominent role on the battlefield. these militias have played key rolls in securing Amerli, Baiji, and Jurf al Sakhar, and are on the forefront of the fighting in Diyala province.

The United States designated the Hezbollah Brigades as a terrorist organization in July 2009. On the same day, the US added a Qods Force commander who supported the “Special Groups,” such as the Hezbollah Brigades, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The so-called Special Groups are responsible for the deaths of hundrends of US and allied soldiers between 2004 and 2011. [For more information, see LWJ report, US sanctions Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades and Qods Force adviser.]

The organization has also been responsible for several American deaths during the war in Iraq. The US State Department described the Hezbollah Brigades as “a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western establishment and jihadist ideology that has conducted attacks against Iraqi, US, and Coalition targets in Iraq.”

The group has been directly linked to the murder of two UN employees in November 2008. Additionally, the Iranian-backed extremists conducted attacks against US and Iraqi forces, using explosively-formed penetrators and improvised rocket-assisted mortars, which have been described as flying improvised explosive devices.

Despite this, the group was assisted by US airstrikes when Iraqi and Kurdish forces broke the siege of Amerli in Salahaddin province. The US military said it launched airstrikes against the Islamic State outside of the town “[a]t the request of the Government of Iraq” and “in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to address the humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amerli.” [See LWJ report US aided Hezbollah Brigades in breaking Islamic State siege of Iraqi town]

Video of Hezbollah Brigades convoy:

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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  • m3fd2002 says:

    We don’t have a dog in this fight. Iraq is lost to the west. An incredible opportunity was squandered to bring this part of the world into a more civil era. Why? That will be argued over the next 50 years. However, the west at this time doesn’t need to compound the problem by giving blood or treasure to either sunni or shia arabs. The Peshmerga’s may be an exception, but even they have anti-western elements imbedded. The word “FIASCO” comes to mind.

  • Bill Baar says:

    How easy is it to maintain an M1 tank? How many spares would they need on hand?

  • Will Fenwick says:

    There is also a third however unlikely possibility in regards to how they may have acquired the tank, it may have been recaptured from stocks seized by the islamic state.
    I would not be surprised if alot of the materiel we have sold the iraqis ends up being carted back to iran, and iranian / north korean made clones start appearing.

  • Vern says:

    Hell, the Iraqi Army gave this equipment to Hezbollah. They are all Shites. Duh.

  • kimball says:

    Where does this huge convoy come from and where are the front??

  • Mike in San Diego says:

    I agree with first comment. We don’t have a dog in this fight. When two of your enemies are fighting, you let them fight. Once they are done you come in and smash the victor.

  • Alex says:

    Worrisome for sure, but opens up more questions than answers. First, are we sure this was an Iraqi tank? Egypt also uses M1s; could this have been sold to Hezbollah when Egypt was under Muslim Brotherhood administration?
    It does need an investigation though, since we now have M1 armor under the inspection of Iranian bomb techs.

  • mike merlo says:

    it should also be noted that many, if not all, of these Shia ‘Militias’ have been heavily ‘augmented’ by Iranian Military/Intelligence personnel & the Shia/Islamist equivalent of Religious/Political Commissar’s

  • Ken North says:

    Hezbollah is first, last, and always a “transnational criminal organization”. Crime funds jihad.
    That endless column of technicals was paid for in cash with the proceeds from world-wide drug sales. Heroin, hashish, marijuana, meth, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals – all from the Bekaa Valley – put them in a league of their own.
    With all of the resurgent concern about sleeper cells in the West, we would do well to remember that Hezbollah has a long-standing presence in the tri-border area, established relationships with Mexican cartels, and an unquestionable presence in the U.S. In addition to drug sales, their U.S. criminal activities have included cigarette and stolen car smuggling.
    Getting our arms around Hezbollah criminal and intelligence activities in the U.S. is frankly far more challenging than arresting a second string SVR agent preoccupied with alternative energy technologies.

  • Brian L says:

    Farsi graffiti on the tank was later translated as “Thank You, Mr. Cheney!”

  • muhammad says:

    This is not the Lebanese Hezbollah…. Those flags belong to a different militia group in Iraq that also has the name Hezbollah… So most likely the iraqi militia group got the M1 from the iraqi army.

  • Tanker says:

    I think that may be a Zulfiqar 3 Iranian Main Battle Tank made to look like an M1. The video is unclear and it goes by pretty fast.

  • Jim says:

    Sooner or later, that tank and all of that American equipment, are going to get thir share of Hellfire missiles and smart bombs.

  • Steve says:

    I spent 22 years maintaining M1s, its frustrating seeing one with other than Americans manning it. Its a powerful weapon, I’d hate to see our troops fighting our own tanks.

  • Morgan says:

    There’s a reason they’re on HETs vs. not driving them down the road: Hezbollah doesn’t have the fuel or know-how to operate the tanks, let alone maintain them. Like all of the F-250s we gave to Iraq, the tanks will sit somewhere and rot, unused, possibly sold for scrap. Not much of a danger here.

  • sheytanelkebir says:

    This convoy is a joint Iraqi Army and “popular mobilisation” convoy. All these armoured vehicles are owned and operated and controlled by the Iraqi Army and MInistry of Defence.
    The “popular mobilisation” fights alongside the Iraqi Armed forces and these flags were simply draped over the vehicle convoy by the popular mobilisation propaganda arm (logo at bottom) for domestic consumption about the participation of the popular mobilisation.
    Sadly there’s absolutely nothing sensational about this “news”. It has been known since July that various ex-shia militias begun fighting alongside the Iraqi Armed Forces when the northern “fifth column” divisions melted away and resurfaced as either “peshmarga” or “ISIS”, I would have thought such information would be “basic stuff” for the Long War Journal guys.
    So on youtube you can find many videos of these various ex-shia militias being assisted by M198s, riding in M113s etc…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    This isn’t an “ex-shia militia,” this is a Shia militia. The Iraqi Army allows an “ex-shia militia” to drape its flag all over one of its convoys? Sure. I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you…
    So was that an “ex-shia militia” that butchered more than 72 Sunnis in Barwanah while Iraqi troops stood by and cried, or was it just a a Shia militia? Or would you describe that as a “popular mobilisation”?
    We’ve been tracking the Shia militias role in the fight since July, so we are quite aware of what is going on. They have been fighting as their own units alongside Iraqi troops, and have often led the fight. The IS and INP are severely compromised at this point.

  • Mike in San Diego says:

    Wow. I just read the article about the Iraqi army standing by and crying while the militias killed the civilians. The situation in Iraq is even more bleak than I thought.
    2 more years of leading from behind …

  • Will Fenwick says:

    I would not be surprised if there are katib hezbollah operatives embedded in iraqi army units for the sole purpose of acquiring advanced material via “defection” of those operatives and their associated equipment.

  • Dave says:

    There’s more than one. Should we really be supporting the Iraqi government when they give these tanks to our enemies.

  • M3fd2002 says:

    Lets get something straight on this board. All of the elements involved in the Iraq/syria theater are extremist islamic fundamentalists. It doesn’t matter if they are shia or sunni. there is no conceivable good scenario for western interests at this point. Predictably, the kurds are complainibg that Kobani was destroyed! And they have the nerve to ask for reconstruction funding! Do you get it! This region is completely disfunctional and un- retrievable. Let it burn! i like Col. ralph Peter’s philosophy of leaving ruble and widows.

  • anan says:

    Sheytanelkebir, agree with you that this appears to be a joint Iraqi Army “popular mobilization” convoy:
    –It is not a big deal
    –This has common occurrence for quite some time.
    I see no evidence that this joint convoy was not under the command and control of the IMoD and IMoI. The popular mobilization and Iranian forces operating in Iraq are very dependent on IMoD and IMoI combat enablers, and lack the ability to fight ISIS on their own without large scale Iraqi and international help. The Iranians and popular mobilization forces closely collaborate with American and other international advisers and at the request of IMoI and IMoD frequently receive American and other international combat enablers, including close air support.
    It is no secret that there is a de facto alliance between Iraq, Iran, the US, Turkey, Europe, Jordan, Russia and a large number of other countries against ISIS.
    The Iranians have the weak hand. Iranian oil production is sluggish. Oil prices are low. Non oil Iranian GDP is sluggish. Iran’s budget deficit is skyrocketing. Iran is militarily suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria. Iran’s proxy Hezbollah has suffered extraordinary losses in both Syria and Lebanon (far greater than Hezbollah suffered in their short and less violent war with Israel in 2006), and is a shadow of their former self.
    This is why Iran’s new government is trying to negotiate a strategic partnership on a whole host of issues with President Obama. Negotiations that President Obama is taking very seriously. A general agreement on most issues between the US and Iran might just happen.
    On the topic of “ex-Shia” milita, I think the reason sheytanelkebir is calling it that is because it is different this time.
    In 2004-2008, the Shia militia operated in competition with and in most cases in conflict with IMoD. Most Shia militia were under the de facto command and control of Iran’s unelected dictator Khamenei though Khamenei’s IRGC Kuds force.
    The new militia are operating under the command and control of Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi through the IMoD and IMoI chain of command. In other words these new milita are similar to Shia versions of the Sahwa/sons of Iraq. Iranian forces also operate under Iraqi C2; and in close de facto collaboration with American and other international advisors.
    Bill, yes 72 Iraqi Sunni civilians were murdered by the popular mobilization forces. Many similar massacres of Iraqi Sunni civilians were carried out of militia allied to IMoD and IMoI or directly by the ISF between 2004 and 2008 too. Sadly these massacres are not new and not surprising.
    The Iraqis will remain dependent on Iranians (and Turkish, Jordanian, UAE, European, Russian) help until there is a large scale international program to surge the capacity of IMoD and IMoI.
    At the peak the Iraqis had close to 100K training seats in 2007 and early 2008 with MNSTC-I advisors. Now President Obama is only supporting 4 training bases. To use the words of Rear Admiral Kirby from January 23rd, 2015:
    “Right now, there’re about 3,600 Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces if you add the hundred that we had there that are — that are in the training pipeline.
    So you got roughly 600 at Al Asad, 1,600 at Camp Taji and another 1,300 or so at Bismayah. And then as I said, you got the 100 up there in Irbil, which just started today.
    And there’s various levels of U.S. troops at each of those sites assisting them. I would also point out that we are — we expect to — and we already have, in some cases — but expect to get additional coalition partners in terms of training at — at those sites.”
    The current training program for the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police is wholly inadequate; forcing Iraqis to accept help from wherever they can get it.

  • Ciana says:

    this sickens me…..after seeing the Yazidis… All the blood and treasure of our precious men and women scarred for life and trillions up in smoke, now this? Butchers with our supplies on the road to kill and maim and rape and and and and……. Will it ever stop? Beheadings, stonings, mutilations, honor killings, (oxymoron) child brides, genital mutilation, how much more needs to be said? STOP THE MADNESS.

  • TLA says:

    You spend more time prepping these vehicles than using them in the field. /nota particularly useful propaganda tool.

  • sheytanelkebir says:

    Bill Rogio, since you’re tracking the shia militias you’re well aware that they are being integrated into the MOD structure.

    The tanks above are owned, operated, and under the command of the Iraqi MoD and the 9th division in particular. There is absolutely nothing to “discuss” on that matter. The US delivered more Abrams tanks YESTERDAY to Iraq, if any Iraqi Abrams tanks were deemed to be “out of control” and in the hands of Shia terrorist militias then I’d guess the US wouldn’t be delivering any more tanks…

    But the tanks are NOT out of control. Every single MBT is accounted for. Except for the ones destroyed during last year’s war (about a dozen or so). The reason these militias are called “ex shia militias” is the same reason that Sunni Arab militias/terrorists are called the same when they join the Iraqi government side and fall under its authority.

    In fact the above convoy, as I know, was given AIR SUPPORT by the US. Something far more potent than a single M1 Abrams tank (actually the “popular mobilisation” generally prefer working alongside Type 69 and T72, as those tanks have more suitable munitions for this type of warfare and are more reliable).. there are more T72s being purchased too.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Sheytanelkebir, anon,

    So, Hezbollah Brigades, which is a SDGT, is integrated into IA, yet still flies its own flag? Who is fooling whom?

    And Anan, the militias are not being controlled by MoI/MoD, in fact, reporting indicates it is other way around (see reporting on Ameri for instance).

    What you are missing is the US is making a serious mistake by continuing to provide tanks and air support. You both are putting your heads in the sand on what is actually happening.

  • sheytanelkebir says:

    actually independent flag flying has been toned down somewhat recently. But of course there’s still the question of “kudos” for fighting ISIS (and this is for domestic Iraqi consumption) and thus, yes for photos they still take opportunities to take pictures.

    Sad to say that you think its a serious strategic mistake for the US to arm Iraq. Iraq certainly won’t collapse if the US withdrew support. They would just turn to other countries for support. And there are certainly many countries that are providing support and have promised it in many guises, economic, military, monetary and others… From the EU, to Iran, Russia, China, Japan and the various GCC states, not to mention the US.

    The US delivered (free!) Abrams tanks to Iraq only this week. Presumably the US is in the business of arming Shia Militias, we can conclude.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Have the Shia militias been toning it down the last few months when they are executing Iraqis as the military stands by, helpless and crying?

    The US clearly is in the business of arming & providing air support for Shia militias, including one that is on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Some of us Americans have a problem with that.

    If you think this is a good thing, then you are missing the fact that arming the militias only makes the Islamic State more appealing to Sunnis in the long run.

  • sheytanelkebir says:

    The issue of Sunnis finding radical jihadists appealing is a horse that bolted a decade ago. From the perspective of southern Iraqis and Kurds (and Yazidi, christian, shia-turkmen, shabaks), they have long passed the point of “no return” for a “united state” in Iraq, and ultimately the more reasonable and rational elements within the equation will carve out stable independent states for themselves from the rump Iraq (Kurdistan, maybe a Yazidi-Christian-Shabak-Turkmen northern region, and a central/southern overwhelmingly shia states). The only thing that can be done about the Sunni Arabs within this context is damage limitation.

    -Some will live within the Kurdish state as a small minority.
    -Some will remain within the Yazidi-Assyrian-Shabak-Turkmen region as a minority
    -Some will remain within the Shia state as a minority
    -Some will remain in a “no man’s land” in the Anbar/Ninawa/Hamrin areas beyond the control of any of these formal states.
    -Many will end up as refugees in Turkey once the ISIS state collapses in Iraq.
    -Others will end up as refugees within the “rump” isis state around Raqqa and filter out to other countries.

    Breaking up the Sunni Arabs into small isolated communities, and driving the ones who were overtly with ISIS out of Iraq completely seems to be the route that we’re headed down as of now.

    Last summer Sunni Arabs placed all their chips on “red” (exterminating everyone else in Iraq), and now they lost the bet, and will face the consequences. The battles of Ninawa and Carcemish come to mind.

  • Debbie Snith says:

    ISIS drove a 100s of brand new Japanese Toyota made cars before the attack on Libya They drove through Libya in the cars before murdering the 21 Coptic Christians They also had a plumbing truck from the US with the US Plumbers Co name still engraved in the truck.


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