The U.S. intercepted transmissions that appear to be between militia groups in Syria and Lebanon. The communications show that Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that works with militia groups across the Middle East, led research and testing on a weapon capable of breaching heavy armor, such as that on Humvees and tanks, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
Middle East militia groups have used similar weapons before. Explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, weapons are similar to roadside bombs commonly used by terror groups and were used against U.S. forces during the invasion of Iraq. The weapon tested by the Quds Force in conjunction with Lebanon’s Hezbollah is capable of piercing nearly three-inch thick armor plating at a range of 75 feet.
The weapon testing marks an escalation in Iran’s use of force against the U.S. According to the documents, at least one attempt to use the weapon against Americans was seemingly thwarted in February by the United States’ Kurdish allies in Syria. Kurdish fighters confiscated three EFPs.
Other documents suggest Iran is working with Russia to push the U.S. out of the Middle East. Iran is backing Moscow in its war in Ukraine and supplying the Russian military with drones, as well as other armaments. Russia recently made use of dozens of drones in a series of attacks against Ukraine, focused particularly on Kyiv.
Over the weekend, Ukraine’s air defense downed 52 of 54 drones that dropped across the country, the Ukrainian military said. Forty of those drones targeted Kyiv, and the downed devices caused light damage and set fires across the city. One person reportedly died from falling debris.
Russia is working with Iran on a more aggressive approach to U.S. forces in the Middle East. In November, high-ranking military officials with Russia, Iran, and Syria met and agreed to establish a “coordination center” to work on building grassroots opposition to U.S. forces stationed in Syria, according to the Post.
U.S. President Joe Biden early in his term attempted to renegotiate the Iran deal put in place under former President Barack Obama. Former President Donald Trump severed the agreement after it was criticized as unenforceable and unable to complete its designed goal: to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Talks to revive the scuttled deal froze last year. Biden, on the sidelines of an election rally in November, said the agreement was “dead,” but added that the United States would not make an official announcement calling it such.