Russia is receiving munitions and military hardware sourced from Iraq for its war effort in Ukraine with the help of Iranian weapons-smuggling networks, according to members of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias and regional intelligence services with knowledge of the process.

RPGs and anti-tank missiles, as well as Brazilian-designed rocket launcher systems, have been dispatched to Russia from Iraq as Moscow’s campaign has faltered in the last month, the Guardian has learned. And an Iranian-made Bavar 373 missile system, similar to the Russian S-300, has been donated to Moscow by the authorities in Tehran.

Using the weapons-trafficking underworld would signal a dramatic shift in Russian strategy as Moscow is forced to lean on Iran, its military ally in Syria, after new sanctions triggered by the invasion of Ukraine.

Joe Biden has announced a crackdown on “ghost guns”, untraceable firearms assembled from kits, which have been used in a rising number of shooting crimes.

The president, who has promised to tackle gun violence across America, said the new rule would make it easier for law enforcement officials to track and catch those who use illegal firearms.

“These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said during an event in the White House Rose Garden. “We’re going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice and when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time … If you commit a crime with a ghost gun, expect federal prosecution.”

He also announced the nomination of Steve Dettelbach, the US attorney in Ohio from 2009 to 2016, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

What are ghost guns? They are often assembled from kits, do not have serial numbers and are sold without background checks, making them easy to acquire and difficult to trace.

How many of them are there? It’s hard to know but in 2021 there were about 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to the ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations – a tenfold increase from 2016, according to statistics shared by the White House.

The US state department yesterday ordered non-emergency US government workers to leave the consulate in Shanghai owing to a surge in Covid cases and China’s strict measures to control the virus.

On Friday the state department announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate. It is not clear why the departure of those workers has become mandatory.

“Our change in posture reflects our assessment that it is best for our employees and their families to be reduced in number and our operations to be scaled down as we deal with the changing circumstances on the ground,” the department said yesterday.

China responded angrily to the earlier voluntary departure order.

What measures is China taking to control coronavirus? The most controversial of Shanghai’s practices had been separating Covid-positive children from their parents. The state department cited the risk of parents and children being separated in yesterday’s announcement.

Source » theguardian