(March 26, 2020 / JNS) The United States has sanctioned 20 Iran- and Iraq-based front companies, senior officials and business associates that allegedly provide support to or act for or on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF), in addition to transferring lethal assistance to Iranian-backed terrorist proxies, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, announced the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday.
According to the department, these entities and individuals allegedly perpetrated or supported: smuggling through the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr; money-laundering through Iraqi front companies; selling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime; smuggling weapons to Iraq and Yemen; promoting propaganda efforts in Iraq on behalf of the IRGC-QF and its terrorist militias; intimidating Iraqi politicians; and using funds and public donations made to an ostensibly religious institution to supplement IRGC-QF budgets.
“Iran employs a web of front companies to fund terrorist groups across the region, siphoning resources away from the Iranian people and prioritizing terrorist proxies over the basic needs of its people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for humanitarian aid, including agriculture commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to help the people of Iran combat the coronavirus.”
On March 12, the United States launched strikes on five weapons’ storage facilities belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah in retaliation for an attack the previous day in Iraq that killed two U.S. troops and a British service member, and injured 14 others. These facilities apparently housed weapons used to target U.S. and coalition troops, according to the Pentagon.
The latest round of sanctions exemplifies the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran since withdrawing the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties on the regime.
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