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US imposes sanctions on low-cost Iraq airline over transport of arms, fighters for Iran-backed militias

January 23, 2024 at 8:36 pm

A general view of the Kirkuk International Airport, which hosted the first international flight and opened its doors to the whole world in Kirkuk, Iraq on October 27, 2022 [Mehmet Eser – Anadolu Agency]

The United States has imposed sanctions on a budget Iraqi airline company over its involvement with Iran-backed militias in transporting their arms and fighters.

In a statement by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), it announced its addition of Iraqi low-cost carrier, Fly Baghdad, to its list of sanctioned entities, as a result of reports that it helped transport arms used by sanctioned Iran-backed militias in the country.

OFAC declared that the airline, its CEO Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan Al-Shabbani, and two of the carrier’s aircraft have been subjected to the sanctions designation for “providing assistance to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and its proxy groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon”.

The airline is accused of shipping weapons, fighters, and money to Damascus International Airport, all of which are used by the IRGC-QF and its militias operating within Syria, including the Syrian Arab Republican Guard, Hezbollah, Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq.

The specific shipments reportedly consist of weapons such as Iranian-made Fateh, Zulfiqar and Al-Fajr series missiles, as well as AK-47 rifles, RPG-7s, machine guns and grenades. US-made weapons obtained by the militias on the field were also included in the shipments.

As a result of the sanctions, all of the airline’s assets or affiliated persons designated by OFAC within the US – or under the control or possession of persons in the US – are to be reported and blocked. Any individuals or entities within the US are also forbidden from conducting any transactions with them.

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