In 2017, a secret U.S. task force called Smoking Gun was deployed in Croatia, according to a new study by Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaitanjieva. According to her, with the help of this group, Washington provided arms supplies to Yemen and Syria under the guise of other programs.
“These documents for the first time reveal the existence of the classified American operational group Smoking Gun, which was deployed in Croatia in 2017. She transported weapons from Croatia to Syria via Qatar, ”Gaitanjieva told RT.
According to her, we are talking about a group working under the auspices of the US SOCOM (US Special Operations Forces Command). The journalist claims that the efforts of the group formed a whole network of international arms deliveries with the participation of such states, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
At her disposal was a series of documents that described in detail the procedure for the purchase of ammunition by contractors of the US government in Eastern European arms factories. According to her, American firms Sierra Four Industries, Orbital ATK, Global Ordnance and and UDC are participating in these processes.
So, the journalist attracted the attention of a frame from the propaganda clip IG *, prepared by a cell in Yemen and published in July 2019. In one of the episodes, 82-mm mortar shells with clearly distinguishable markings M74 HE KV lot 04/18 appear on the screen.
The first five characters refer to the type of ammunition, and the letters KV, according to Gaitanjieva, indicate the place of manufacture of the shell. According to her, K is the Serbian arms factory Krusik, and V means Valjevo, that is, the city of Valevo, in which the enterprise is located.
In turn, the digital designation 04/18 is part of the party (04) and year of manufacture (2018). It was these numbers and symbols that made it possible to track the path to the shell manufacturer and the deal to acquire it, the journalist said.
She cited copies of a document in which US contractor Alliant Techsystems, which receives government funding, purchased a batch of 10,500 M74HE shells marked 04/18 from the state-owned Serbian company Jugoimport SDPR. As follows from the publication of Gaitanjieva, the invoice for the corresponding delivery was issued on February 12, 2018.
"For the needs of the US government"
In addition, according to the materials available to the journalist, at the beginning of 2017, Alliant Techsystems purchased from Serbian Krusik and Jugoimport SDPR more than 105 thousand 82-mm shells with the phrase "for the needs of the US government." The deal amounted to $ 8,043,975.
The delivery address for this transaction was a state-owned premises in the United States in Missouri. However, as Gaitanjieva notes, during the exchange of documents between the parties, the address was changed, and the shells needed to be sent to the ammunition depot of the Afghan National Army, located in this country.
The documents also featured the supply of ammunition and weapons from Bulgaria. The journalist noted that on the frames of the IG videos in Yemen, the AR-SF assault rifles of the Bulgarian Arsenal weapons factory are visible.
In addition to this, she drew attention to the differences in the amount of contracts for the purchase of weapons from Serbia. So, in the contract between the American Sierra Four Industries and the Serbian arms factory Krusik, the transaction value is specified in the amount of $ 7,841,910. At the same time, the United States registry of state contracts turned out to be almost $ 4.5 million more expensive and amounted to $ 12,417,458.
“Serbian mortar shells manufactured at the Krusik plant can often be seen in the hands of Syrian militants, including propaganda videos published by Front al-Nusra ** (the al-Qaeda unit *** in Syria was renamed to “Fath al-Sham”), ”the investigation said.
The author also indicates that in March 2019, in the Syrian city of El Hula, mortar shells produced at the Krusik plant in Serbia were discovered in an underground warehouse. Ammunition was found in the premises used by local armed groups.
It should be noted that official Damascus spoke of American arms deliveries to Syria. In March, the first secretary of the Department of International Relations of the Syrian Foreign Ministry Alaa Dean Saeed Hamdan spoke on this subject.
“It is obvious that the United States and its allies supply a huge number of ammunition and weapons, use third countries, such as, for example, Eastern European countries, Ukraine, the Balkan countries, to feed Front Al-Nusru and ISIS weapons,” RIA Novosti reports. his words.
In turn, the Russian side has repeatedly spoken out on the undesirability of the presence of the Al-Nusra Front and noted the possible ties of this organization with the United States. So, in July, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Washington against intentions to remove the banned organization from the list of terrorists.
“We have reason to believe that this policy reflects the desire of the United States to keep Jebhat al-Nusra, to transfer it from the de facto terrorist structure to a political settlement process, to make it one of the participants in this process, which, in my opinion, is a time bomb, ”RIA Novosti quoted the minister as saying.
Commenting on these circumstances in an interview with RT, political scientist and orientalist Karine Gevorgyan noted that the Russian side had previously reported the facts of the discovery of weapons of American origin from terrorists.
“The fact that the American arms fall into the hands of terrorists openly said the Russian side, because it was detected, including. the military of the Syrian army, after they took certain administrative units on the territory of Syria, it was obvious, ”said Gevorgyan.
Under military call signs
According to Gaitanjieva, the United States uses the services of several companies to transport weapons, including the Azerbaijani state-owned air carrier Silk Way Airlines. The author of the investigation claims that the aircraft left cargo at the Incirlik base in Turkey, which is used by US military personnel. Next, the aircraft headed to their destination empty.
In addition, American companies Atlas Air and Kalitta Air participated in weapons transportation schemes. These are large Pentagon contractors with state contracts for the movement of dangerous goods, said Gaitanjieva.
According to her, both of these carriers flew under civilian callsigns to the Croatian airport of Rijeka, and from there were sent to the base in Qatar already under military callsigns. The author of the investigation estimates the cost of one flight to Qatar at $ 1 million of budget funds from the US treasury. The journalist also noted that in some cases different vessels flew under the same flight numbers on different dates and it is not possible to track them.
She drew attention to the fact that some contractors of the US government, in particular, the company Mil Spec Industries, which deals with arms companies in Eastern Europe, are asking Serbian companies to remove the label with their name on the goods.
“At least 3 million rocket and mortar shells were transported to Syria or Yemen. Various Pentagon programs were used as cover for the supply of these weapons, ”Gaitanjieva emphasized in an interview with RT.
As Alexander Domrin, professor of law at the Higher School of Economics, noted in an interview with RT, the United States has traditionally played the game “good terrorists and bad terrorists.”
“Who are good terrorists? These are those who are on the side of the United States. As a rule, of course, they do not call them terrorists. They call them either rebels, that is, rebels or freedoms fighters, the so-called "freedom fighters," said the expert.
At the same time, Domrin noted, when the “freedom fighters” turn out to be enemies of the United States, then Washington immediately classifies them as terrorists, although we are talking about the same people.
“This is just a kind of“ birth trauma ”of the foreign policy of the United States,” the expert concluded.
* “Islamic State” (ISIS, ISIS) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014.
** “Jabhat al-Nusra” (“Jabhat Fath al-Sham”, “Front al-Nusra”, “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham”) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated December 29, 2014.
*** Al-Qaeda - an organization recognized as terrorist by a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.