New video footage obtained by Radio Canada International appears to show for the first time Canadian-made light armoured vehicles being deployed by Saudi security forces in an operation against militants in the Shia-populated eastern part of the kingdom.
The nine-second video is putting additional pressure on the Liberal government to cancel a multi-billion contract to supply the Saudi Arabia’s royal family with newer and more lethal models of these same vehicles.
The video was supplied to RCI by Saudi Shia activists who claim that it was shot recently in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in the Shia-dominated city of Awamiyah, which has been under siege by Saudi security forces since May. Meta data on the video suggests it was shot in May.
RCI and CBC could not independently verify the authenticity of the video footage or its purported location.
If true, the video offers the first evidence of Saudi security forces deploying these types of weapons systems in their crackdown on the Shia minority in the Sunni kingdom’s Qatif region.
Media attention so far has focused on the reported use by Saudi Special Security Forces of armoured personnel carriers (APCs) produced by another Canadian manufacturer, Terradyne Armored Vehicles in Newmarket, Ont.
RCI and CBC reported two weeks ago that Terradyne Gurkha APCs were reportedly used by Saudi security forces in the fighting in Awamiyah, prompting calls for the government to suspend Terradyne’s export permits.
However, there has been no evidence the Saudi government was using LAVs in its crackdown in Awamiyah, which, according to unconfirmed reports by Saudi human rights groups, has killed between 20 and 30 people in the city and driven out most of its population.
In April 2016, despite numerous concerns raised by human rights groups, the Liberal government approved a $15-billion deal to supply Saudi Arabia with hundreds of LAV 6.0 advanced combat vehicles, produced by General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada at its plant in London, Ont.
The video obtained by RCI appears to have been shot by a Saudi soldier from the top turret hatch of a vehicle of the same family of combat vehicles as the LAV 6.0.
Military experts consulted by RCI and CBC have identified the vehicles in the videos as LAV 25s, an older model in the…