US sanctions 5 Iranian ship captains for bringing oil to Venezuela -Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a news conference about dealings with Iran in Washington, US, June 24, 2020. (Pool via Reuters)
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Updated 24 June 2020

US sanctions 5 Iranian ship captains for bringing oil to Venezuela -Pompeo

  • Pompeo said the ships delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who delivered oil to Venezuela, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed Washington’s backing for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Speaking at a press conference at the State Department, Pompeo said the ships delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline and related components, and warned mariners against doing business with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose ouster Washington wants.
“As a result of today’s sanctions, these captains’ assets will be blocked. Their careers and prospects will suffer from this designation,” Pompeo said in a statement later.
US President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to block Iran’s energy trade and also to bring down Maduro. It has threatened reprisals and warned ports, shipping companies and insurers against facilitating the tankers.
Venezuela’s exports are hovering near their lowest levels in more than 70 years and the OPEC member’s economy has collapsed. Yet Maduro has held on, frustrating the Trump administration.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the sanctions on the captains “an excess of arrogance” and “more proof of the Trump hawks’ hatred of all Venezuelans.”
Iran has since April sent five tankers totaling about 1.5 million barrels to the leftist government of fuel-starved Venezuela. The shipments have done little to alleviate hours-long lines at gas stations.
In an interview with news site Axios published on Sunday, Trump played down his January 2019 decision to recognize Guaido, speaker of the opposition-held National Assembly, as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Trump has been frustrated by the inability of his recognition of Guaido and his sanctions campaign to oust Maduro, some US officials have said privately.
The White House said on Monday that Trump had not lost confidence in Guaido. 


Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

Updated 42 min 24 sec ago

Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

  • Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad
  • Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst

BAGHDAD: Iraqi mourners and relatives on Tuesday carried the body of a respected analyst shot and killed the previous night in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias. Many Iraqis expressed their shock over the slaying.
Hisham Al-Hashimi, 47, was gunned down on Monday night outside his home in Baghdad’s Zeyouneh neighborhood. His casket, draped in the Iraqi flag, was taken to his family home before being driven to the burial site.
Al-Hashimi, a leading expert on Daesh and other militant organization, was a regular fixture on Iraqi television and his expertise was often sought by government officials, journalists and researchers.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, which comes weeks after he confided to close friends that he had received threats from militia groups. The slaying also coincides with a spate of rocket attacks targeting US interests that has been blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.
Authorities launched a raid last week in Baghdad, in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group, suspected of orchestrating the attacks. All but one detainees were released days later.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing Al-Hashimi’s killers.
Hours after Al-Hashimi’s killing, authorities fired the top police officer for Zeyouneh and launched an investigation into his activities, according to an order from the prime minister’s office, seen by The Associated Press.
Condemnations from Iraqi officials poured in as shock reverberated across the country at the news of Al-Hashimi’s killing.
Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said “authorities must find the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice,” in a tweet on Tuesday.