US imposes new Iran-related sanctions on Iraq-based firm, associates

An Iraq-based company and two associates have been sanctioned by the US for supplying millions of dollars' worth of weaponry to fighters from the Quds Force The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose Iraqi branch the Quds Force branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, pictured here in 2018. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 13 June 2019

US imposes new Iran-related sanctions on Iraq-based firm, associates

  • SWRC and two associates have “covertly facilitated the IRGC-QF’s access to the Iraqi financial system”
  • The IRGC-QF were previously sanctioned in October 2007

WASHINGTON: The US has imposed Iran-related sanctions on an Iraq-based company and two people, according to a notice posted on the US Treasury Department website on Wednesday.

The Treasury said in a statement that it had imposed the sanctions on South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC) and two of its Iraqi associates, which the US accuses of trafficking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to militia in Iraq backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

SWRC and the two associates have “covertly facilitated the IRGC-QF’s access to the Iraqi financial system to evade sanctions,” the statement said. 

The Treasury added that the scheme also served to enrich previously sanctioned Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, an Iraqi adviser to IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani, who has run weapons smuggling networks and participated in bombings of Western embassies and attempted assassinations in the region.

“Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Qods Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC’s ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities.”

The IRGC-QF were previously sanctioned in October 2007. It is a branch of the IRGC responsible for external operations and, according to the US Treasury, has provided material support to numerous terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Lebanese Hizballah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The US has designated it a key component of Iran’s destabilizing regional activities. 

The IRGC-QF’s parent organization, the IRGC, was sanctioned in October 13, 2017, and on April 15 was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Secretary of State.


Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Updated 20 August 2019

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

  • The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces
  • After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar

BEIRUT: Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces pressed an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region, a war monitor said.
The fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikun and the countryside to its south overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
On Monday, a Turkish military convoy crossed the border into the Idlib region, sparking condemnation from Damascus as Ankara alleged air strikes had targeted its troops.
The convoy halted just north of Khan Sheikhun on Monday afternoon and remained there on Tuesday, after government forces took control of a section of the highway into the town.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Monday morning’s strike targeted a rebel vehicle scouting the road in front of the Turkish convoy.
“The Syrian army in its own way sent a clear message to the Turkish regime by forcing convoys sent by Ankara to help the terrorists in Khan Sheikhun to come to a halt,” it said.
It was a “clear warning against any Turkish attempt to resuscitate the terrorists,” the paper said, adding that the strike had “Russian support.”
After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal signed last year.
But government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing more than 860 civilians, according to an Observatory toll.
The United Nations says the shelling and air strikes have also hit dozens of health facilities and caused more than 400,000 people to flee their homes.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since the rebels first took arms following the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Rival interventions by outside powers have turned it into a complex conflict with multiple battle fronts that has driven millions of civilians from their homes.