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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

US targets Turkey-based airlines in latest Iran sanctions move

The move follows new measures against Iranian officials, bankers and Hezbollah members

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on 'After the Deal - A New Iran Strategy', at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, USA, 21 May 2018. EPA/Michael Reynolds 
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on 'After the Deal - A New Iran Strategy', at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, USA, 21 May 2018. EPA/Michael Reynolds 

The US Treasury Department has designated nine individuals and entities, including several based in Turkey, for assisting Iranian airlines that are already on America's sanctions lists.

The move, announced on Thursday, is the sixth round of sanctions targeting Iranian activities this month.

The new sanctions come three weeks after President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal. They are part of the wider US effort to increase economic pressure on Iran and isolate its international networks of support.

The nine individuals and entities were designated for “procuring export-controlled, US-origin goods for sanctioned Iranian airlines” Mahan Air.

The commercial company was designated by the US as a terrorist organisation in 2011 for facilitating arms shipments, personnel travel, and funds between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxies in Syria. Iran is supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The US government also identified 31 aircraft entities of interest as a warning to those doing business with Iranian sanctioned entities.

A number of the entities and individuals designated are based in Turkey.

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Those included “Turkish citizen Gulnihal Yegane and a network of Istanbul-based firms, including Trigron Lojistik, RA Havacilik, and 3G Lojistik, for enabling designated Iranian airline Mahan Air to secure key aviation goods and services and sustain its fleet of Western-manufactured aircraft”, according to the department.

Also designated in Turkey, is Otik Aviation, in connection with Mahan Air.

The list also targeted Iran-based entities and individuals - Blue Airways, Dena Airways, Iraj Ronaghi and Touraj Zanganeh - for acting on behalf of Meraj Air, another private Iranian-based airline.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said those designated have been extending “a lifeline to the IRGC-QF (foreign wing of the IRGC, the Quds Force) and enable the Iranian regime to transport weapons, fighters, and money to its proxies, including Hezbollah, and to prop up the brutal Assad regime”.

“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,” he said.