US President Donald Trump (R) and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US approves $3.8-billion arms sales to Bahrain amid its crackdown on dissent: Report

The US has reportedly approved arms sales worth over $3.8 billion to Bahrain as the ruling Al Khalifah regime continues its heavy-handed crackdown on dissent in the small Persian Gulf island country.

The package of the potential weapons deal, which includes F-16 fighter jets, upgrades, missiles and patrol boats, was approved by the US State Department, Reuters cited a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying on Friday.

The official added that the proposed arms sales included 19 F-16 warplanes, manufactured by the Lockheed Martin Corp, which could cost up to $2.7 billion. Back in March, the State Department informed Congress that it had planned to approve a request by Manama to purchase the fighter jets.

Furthermore, the State Department approved the sale of a pair of 35-meter patrol boats, equipped with machine guns, and 221 anti-tank missiles. According to the potential deal, Washington also demands $1.8 billion from Bahrain in exchange for upgrading the country’s existing fleet of F-16 jets.

Back in May, Trump said Washington’s relations with Manama were set to improve, after meeting with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.