U.S. Targets Iran-Backed Airline, Militia Fighters In Syria With Sanctions
By RFE/RL January 24, 2019
The United States has targeted with sanctions two Iran-backed foreign militias fighting in Syria, an Iranian airline, and an Armenian general sales agent providing services to an already sanctioned Iranian carrier.
The Treasury Department said on January 24 that all four targeted entities are tied to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) elite Quds Force and Mahan Air, both of which are already blacklisted.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it was taking action against the Fatemiyoun Division and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade, saying their fighters were recruited by the IRGC mostly from Afghan and Pakistani refugees as well as migrants residing in Iran.
"The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran, deprives them of access to basic services such as education, and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The Treasury also designated for sanctions Iran-based Qeshm Fars Air, saying it is owned or controlled by Mahan Air and provides material support to the Quds Force.
The company has operated regular flights to Damascus, delivering cargo, including weapons shipments, the statement said.
The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to the IRCG.
The Treasury said on January 24 that Flight Travel LLC, based in Yerevan, was also being targeted for acting for or on behalf of Mahan Air in Armenia.
The company is being staffed by Mahan Air employees and receives Mahan technical support, according to the Treasury.
Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the Treasury Department is aggressively targeting groups that support Mahan Air.
"Iran continues to leverage Mahan Air and its commercial aviation sector to transport individuals and weapons needed to carry out this tragic campaign and to fuel sectarian conflict throughout the region," she said in the statement.
With reporting by Reuters
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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