U.S. says Iran supplied Ethiopia military drones for Tigray war

Iran has sent Ethiopia armed drones which were unleashed by the Ethiopian military in the ongoing war in the northern Tigray region, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

Spokesman Vedanta Patel said Iran delivered Mohajer-6 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ethiopia in the summer of 2021.

In addition to Ethiopia, Iran has sent drones to Moscow for Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Iran’s supply of military drones to the two countries is in violation of a standing UN Security Council Resolution, said Vedanta Patel.

According to several reports, the Ethiopian military has used Iranian, Turkish, UAE and Chinese drones after the Tigray conflict broke out in November 2020 between Tigray and government forces.

Previously, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has indicated that military drones were used in the Tigray war.

Commander of the country’s Air Force Major General Yilma Merdasa in November last year, during his appearance on state television, confirmed that Ethiopia has used drones in the war.

However, the military official did not say which country’s drones were used.

Last year, Plant SkySat satellite images analyzed by Bellingcat.com identified two Mohajer-6 UAVs and a Ground Control Station (GCS) at Semara airport (now Ethiopian Air Force base) in north-eastern Ethiopia on 1 August.

The GCS was then pictured when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the air base days later.

The Mohajer-6 is the latest design in the Mohajer-series. It was unveiled in 2017 and entered production a year later, serving with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The Mohajer-6 manufactured by Codes Aviation has an operational range of 200 km with a carrying capacity of 40 kilograms of precision-guided munitions.

Among the drones that Ethiopia is said to have used in the country’s civil war is the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2.

This drone manufactured by Baykar Defense can fly with a weight of up to 150 kg and can be controlled from a distance of up to 300 km and will perform its mission at an altitude of 18,000 to 27,000 feet.

Spokesman Vedant Patel said the US has informed the UN about Iran’s delivery of unmanned warplanes to Russia, noting it is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

“This kind of transfer would fall under this restriction, and would be subject to it,” he told reporters, referring to the resolution.

Ethiopia’s use of drones has increased sharply during the last two months after heavy fighting resumed in August ending the six-month-long truce committed by both warring parties.

Source: Sudan Tribune