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Iraqi militia ‘finds' loitering SAM

The 358 SAM that was supposedly found by the PMF's 52nd Brigade. (Popular Mobilisation Forces)

A pro-Iranian element within Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) appears to have revealed that it has an unusual type of Iranian surface-to-air missile (SAM) by pretending to have found one.

The PMF published a statement on its website on 21 October saying its 52nd Brigade had thwarted a missile attack in the east of Salah-al-Din province. The statement, which was subsequently deleted, included photographs showing the same type of loitering SAM that the US Navy recovered from a dhow that was smuggling Iranian weapons to Yemen in November 2019. Other photographs taken at different locations showed a launch rail and the booster that drops off the missile after launch.

While the photographs implied the missile crashed in a field after launch, it appeared to be undamaged and still had a protective cap over its seeker, indicating it had been deliberately placed there.

The 52nd Brigade is an ethnically Turkmen unit that operates in the Tuz Khurmatu area and is reportedly affiliated to the pro-Iranian Badr Organisation.

Shafaq News added more detail, citing the Iraqi National Security Agency (INSA) as saying the missile was found in the vicinity of Al-Hilweh Airport in the northwest of Tuz Khurmatu district: a reference to an airbase that is not currently used by either the Iraqi Air Force or US-led coalition.

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