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U.S. Sanctions Two Airlines for Helping Iran Transport Arms and Troops to Syria

The United States Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on two private airline companies for allegedly aiding Iran, including transferring weapons and troops from Tehran into Syria, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. Action was also taken against two Syria-based, Iran-backed militias consisting mostly of foreign nationals from Afghan and Pakistani refugees and migrants residing in Iran.

Fresh sanctions were imposed on Tehran-based Mahan Air for playing a “critical role in exporting the Iranian regime’s malign influence,” the department said in a statement. It charged that Mahan Air has “routinely” flown fighters and material to Syria to support the regime of Bashar al Assad.

Mahan Air was designated in 2011 under Executive Order 13224 for aiding Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), which is responsible for the Islamic Republic’s extraterritorial operations.

The Fatemiyoun Division and Zaynabiyoun Brigade are being designated for providing material support to the IRGC-QF. “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,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Countries and companies around the world should take note of the risks associated with granting landing rights and providing aviation services to the airlines used by Iran to export terrorism throughout the region,” Mnuchin added.

He noted that “the deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and U.S. goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated.” Mnuchin further explained that the nine individuals or companies designated on Thursday were cooperating with sanctioned Iranian airlines including Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air.

In related news, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran on Friday that his country is ready to impose further sanctions if no progress is made in talks over Tehran’s ballistic missile program. “We are ready, if the talks don’t yield results, to apply sanctions firmly, and they know it,” the minister told reporters.

Officials from France, Britain and other EU countries told Reuters that they were also considering fresh economic sanctions against Iran, including asset freezes and travel bans on the IRGC.

In an op-ed published in The Algemeiner on Thursday, David Gerstman, senior editor of TheTower, asked why European countries were not doing more to confront Iran’s aggressive behavior on European soil, including the planning of terrorist attacks and assassinations of dissidents.

[Photo:  Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / WikiCommons ]