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U.S. Denies Israeli Claim Lebanon Gave Hizballah U.S. Armored Vehicles


The United States has denied an Israeli claim that U.S.-made armored vehicles seen being operated by Hizballah in Syria had been given to the Islamist militia by Lebanon's army.

Last month, footage emerged of Hizballah fighters operating M113 armored personnel carriers in Syria, where the militia -- blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization -- is fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

On December 21, a senior Israeli military official told reporters that Israel believes these vehicles were drawn from stocks supplied by Washington to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

But in Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officials have investigated and do not believe that Lebanon has violated its agreement not to transfer the U.S.-supplied equipment.

"When this allegation was raised in November, the Department of Defense did a structural analysis of the armored personnel carriers in question at that time and concluded that these vehicles were not from the Lebanese Armed Forces. Our assessment remains the same now," Kirby told AFP.

"As we noted when this first came up, the Lebanese Armed Forces stated publicly that the vehicles depicted online were never part of their equipment roster," he said.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa
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