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U.S. lawmakers looking into weapons sales to Saudis

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday he was troubled by a report that Saudi Arabia transferred weapons to extremist groups in Yemen, and questioned whether Congress should consider more restrictions on weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

Later on Wednesday, the committee voted 25 to 17, along party lines, in favor of a war powers resolution that would prevent the U.S. military from providing any support to the Saudis and other countries waging war on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war.

CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the coalition, have transferred U.S.-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters and other groups, and that some of the weapons also made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels, exposing sensitive technology to Iran.

“These reports are very troubling and the Trump administration must investigate further and work to prevent this from happening again,” Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said at a hearing.

“Should Congress pursue greater restrictions on offensive weapons to the Saudi coalition?” asked Engel, who as chairman has the right to review and put “holds” on major foreign weapons sales.

The State Department said it was investigating the allegations. “We are aware of these reports and seeking additional information,” a department official said, adding that all such reports are taken seriously.

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