US sanctions Fly Baghdad for delivering weapons to Damascus
The US Treasury Department announced on Monday, January 22, that it is imposing sanctions on the Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its proxy groups in Syria and Lebanon, as well as its CEO, for providing assistance to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
According to a statement from the US Treasury, over the years, Fly Baghdad has supported operations for the IRGC’s Quds Force and its proxies by delivering equipment and personnel throughout the region and supplying weapon shipments to Damascus International Airport in Syria, to be transferred to members of the IRGC and Iranian-allied militias on the ground in Syria, including the Syrian Republican Guard (subject to US sanctions since 2016, for its role in violence against Syrians), Lebanese Hezbollah, and Hezbollah Brigades (or Kataib Hezbollah (KH), affiliated with the Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigade).
Hezbollah Brigades also utilize Fly Baghdad to transport fighters, weapons, and funds to Syria and Lebanon, in support of the Syrian regime.
Fly Baghdad flights have been used on several occasions to transport bags of US currency and US-made weapons from Iraq to Lebanon.
The Treasury’s statement emphasizes that this action highlights the ongoing threat posed by the IRGC’s Quds Force and its proxy network to American individuals and the region.
Since the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, Hezbollah Brigades have carried out a series of rocket and drone attacks against American individuals in Syria and Iraq and have issued statements committing to attacking American individuals.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control also listed three leaders of one of the Iranian-allied militias in Iraq, Hezbollah Brigades, as well as a company involved in transferring and laundering money on their behalf.
The US sanctions targeted Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani, the CEO of Fly Baghdad, listed by the US Treasury on the sanctions list for owning or having direct or indirect control over the Iraqi airline.
The sanctions also included Hossein Moanes al-Ibudi, known as Hossein Moanes, a senior member of KH and currently the head of KH’s political party, Harakat Hoquq, and formerly served as the head of government relations at Hezbollah Brigades.
Additionally, the sanctions affected the engineer in the Directorate of Technical Equipment (DTE), Riyad Ali Hussein al-Azzawi, a specialist in unmanned aerial vehicles affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Awqad Muhsin Faraj al-Hamidawi, who is involved in cross-border smuggling activities and money laundering operations through Al-Massal land company for tourism and travel.
The company condemns
In a statement via “X,” Fly Baghdad expressed surprise at the American decision which discussed its involvement in transporting weapons to Syria and supporting organizations banned by the American government.
The company added, “Fly Baghdad condemns this decision as it is not based on any material or moral evidence that condemns the company, which has operated for years under the direct supervision of the Iraqi government.”
In November 2023, Washington imposed sanctions on six individuals from the Iranian-backed and funded Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades and the Iraqi Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, accusing them of carrying out recent attacks against its bases and partners in Iraq and Syria.
The US Treasury stated it had imposed sanctions on six individuals associated with Hezbollah Brigades, classified in the United States as a “foreign terrorist organization,” according to a statement it issued at that time.
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