The U.S. Department of Treasury announced sanctions against five Syrian companies and four individuals on allegations of facilitating crude oil shipments and financing to the Assad government, Reuters reports, citing a statement by the department.
One of the targets of the sanctions are businessman Muhammad al-Qatirji and a trucking company he owns, that, the Treasury said, facilitated trade in fuels between the Syrian government and Islamic State, even though the government, with the assistance of Russia, is officially fighting this same Islamic State and most of it has been driven out of territories it occupied in Syria previously.
According to the Treasury statement, Al-Qatirji’s company was also involved in weapons shipments from Iraq to Syria.
Another target of the sanctions is a fuel trade network that spans Syria, the UAE, and Lebanon, securing fuel supplies to the war-torn country. One of the companies participating in this network, Abar Petroleum Service SAL, last year took part in the sale of fuels worth US$430 million to the Syrian government.
Two other companies in the network, “Lebanon-based Nasco Polymers and UAE-based Sonex Investments were designated for facilitating shipments to Syrian ports by serving as consignees and chartering the vessels,” the statement also said.
The Syrian army is currently preparing for an offensive against Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold controlled by groups involving radical Islamists recognized as terrorist groups by the international community.
The offensive once again put Washington at odds with Moscow, since Russian forces began bombing the town ahead of the Syrian offensive despite a warning from President Trump that the offensive could end in tragedy. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to Idlib, to where Russian and Syrian forces earlier in the conflict provided passage for militants from other parts of Syria that government forces took control of, as “a pocket of terrorism” and a problem that needs to be solved.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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