LONDON (AFP) - US troops have found more than a hundred Austrian-made sniper rifles, which were sold to Iran, in a Baghdad raid on insurgents, The Daily Telegraph has reported citing unnamed defence sources.
The .50 calibre weapons, which are capable of penetrating body armour, were part of a shipment of 800 rifles exported by Austrian arms manufacturer Steyr-Mannlicher to Iran last year, the newspaper said. "Although we did make our worries known the sale unfortunately went ahead, and now the potential that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands appears to have happened," a spokesman for the British foreign ministry was quoted as saying by the Telegraph. Britain and the United States had condemned the sale when it originally happened because of their fears that the weapons, which the National Iranian Police Organisation said it was buying to use against drug smugglers, would find their way to insurgents in Iraq. The report comes days after top US defense officials said that sophisticated Iranian-built bombs smuggled into Iraq have killed at least 170 US and allied soldiers since June 2004 and wounded 620 more. According to The Daily Telegraph, within 45 days of the HS50 Steyr-Mannlicher rifles arriving in Iran, a US soldier in an armoured vehicle was killed by an Iraqi insurgent using one of the weapons. US troops had found in the past six months small numbers of the rifles, which each cost 10,000 pounds (15,000 euros, 19,500 dollars), but a raid in Baghdad over the last 24 hours has increased that total to more than a hundred.
Interesting eh? Seems like Iran is doing their fair share.
No serial numbers have been provided to even prove that they were from the Iranian batch. I am not going to doubt that Iran has dealings in Iraq but i find it very odd that these weapons are likely ending up in the hands of Sunni insurgents who are often times staunchly anti-Iranian.
Our arms manufactures have been notorious for decades for selling arms to questionable buyers. It's not the first time Austria has sold arms in crisis regions in the middle east....last time it was long-range artillery. GLOCK pistols are sold everywhere in the world in huge amounts.
Austria was in fact, a while ago, the seventh-largest arms trader in the world. Makes you wonder considering the country has eight million inhabitants.
Although our everlasting neutrality article fixed in the constitution prevents us from selling arms to countries in war, this doesn't apply to pistols, and anyway Iraq isn't technicallly at war anymore.
Heaven's gonna burn your eyes
16th April 2005
They're just trying to make a profit. Buy cheap, flog 'em off to whoever wants them. ;)
sorry for the thread necromancy.
No Austrian weapons in Iraq
US armed forces contradict newspaper report: "No Austrian weapons found with terrorists" By Alexander And Mathé Vienna.
What began as Steyrgate, now ends up as only soap bubbles (?). An English daily paper had reported in February that armor-piercing sniper rifles of the Austrian company Steyr Steyr-Mannlicher were in the hands of Iraqi terrorists and had been found. But now a spokesperson for the armed forces at U.S. central command contradicts this report.
"No Austrian weapons were found in Iraq", explained Lieutenant Commander Scott Miller on Thursday in the discussion with the "Viennese newspaper". "There were rumors, however we did not ever confirm these rumors." Further details for the time being are not available.
Also as Austria has taken public criticism, the Steyr owner Franz Holzschuh was very pleased, now the official public humilation is over with, he wants the affair however no longer to be pursued. "Let sleeping dogs lie. I am glad that grass grew over the thing ", he said. The reaction of Steyr Mannlicher and the Austrian government nevertheless to the clearing-up of this affair was obvious relief.
The "DAILY Telegraph" had reported in February that more than 100 sniper rifles of the type HS50 had been found in raids of the US troops in Bagdad. The weapons originated allegedly from a supply which had gone to Iran in 2005 with the permission of the Austrian government for the use of Iranian security forces. The editor of the article was unfortunately not available to make a statement.
The case had become particularly politically particularly explosive for the reason that England and the USA had violently criticized this sale to Iran. Both were of the opinion, that these weapons could get into the hands of terrorists in Iraq. The press report seemed to confirm this fear and to also to provide a strong basis for the embargo imposed by the USA against Steyr Mannlicher. This embargo is to run out at the end of this year.
Interesting, I remember that when I read about that it was represented as fact instead of a theory. It even seemed logical with all those helicopters shot down at that time.
Very ironic for the US to to boycot an Austrian weapon's manufacturer, I seem to remember that they were the only ones to vote "no" on an UN treaty to restrict small-arms trade last year.
Yahoo even seems to have removed the article mentioned in the first post from its archive.
hmm, A little 'off the record' counseling of soldiers on what they did and did not see? I trust none of the news coming in about Iraq anymore since the majority of official information coming out is total bunk from what i have personally witnessed. Without going into an Infosec violation it seems to me likely that 1- troops under a new offensive have uncovered large amounts of new manufactured heavy and specialised weaponry, namely high quality sniper rifles and man portable sam sets.
2- The troops themselves know about weapons and most can identify popular models.
3-We do VAST business with Austria and it would be unfortunate for our business ally to suddenly recieve bad press over this.
4-a few months after the fact, all information regarding the original issue is buried and nothing more is said about it.
The government seems to think we're all retards. I suppose for the average American its probably true though. Short attention spans mixed with mediocre education system make for bad policy.