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U.S. Imposes Sanctions Related to Syria Violence

19 September 2012
Close-up of David Cohen (AP Images)

Treasury's David Cohen said the actions "seek to disrupt the flow of weapons and communications equipment to the Syrian regime and help prevent their use against the Syrian people."

Washington — The U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 19 imposed sanctions against entities that support the Assad regime’s efforts to procure arms and communications equipment that contribute to the regime’s violence against the Syrian people.

Syria's Army Supply Bureau and Belarus-based Belvneshpromservice are being designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their supporters. The Department of the Treasury also is identifying the Army Supply Bureau as being part of the government of Syria under E.O. 13582. The U.S. Department of State on September 19 also designated the director of Syria’s Scientific Studies Research Center (SSRC), Amr Armanazi, under E.O. 13382.

In addition to these actions, the Treasury Department is identifying 117 aircraft operated by Iran Air, Mahan Air or Yas Air. Iran Air was previously designated for supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Mahan Air and Yas Air were designated for supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

The latest designations will make it easier for interested parties to keep track of this blocked property, and more difficult for Iran to use deceptive practices to try to evade sanctions, Treasury said.

“Today’s actions seek to disrupt the flow of weapons and communications equipment to the Syrian regime and help prevent their use against the Syrian people,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “The identification of Iranian aircraft also further highlights Iran’s ongoing effort to support the Assad regime’s WMD programs and crackdown against the Syrian people.”

SYRIA’S ARMY SUPPLY BUREAU

Syria’s Army Supply Bureau, an element of the Syrian Ministry of Defense involved in conventional military and missile-related procurement, is being identified as an entity belonging to the government of Syria as well as designated under E.O. 13382 for providing support for Iran Electronics Industries (IEI). In March 2012, IEI prepared to send two large shipments of communications equipment, including VHF/UHF jammers, to Syria’s Army Supply Bureau. In August 2012, the international press reported on the suspected use of jamming equipment by the Syrian government against Syrian anti-government fighters at an army checkpoint at the entrance to Aleppo.

BELVNESPROMSERVICE (BVPS)

Belarus' state-owned Belvneshpromservice (BVPS) is being designated for providing services to Syria’s Army Supply Bureau. In March 2011, Syria’s Army Supply Bureau prepared to receive possible fuses for general purpose aerial bombs from BVPS. Aerial bombs were used by the Syrian military as recently as July 2012 in an aerial bombardment of Aleppo as part of a coordinated assault by government forces to intimidate opposition forces.

AMR ARMANAZI

The State Department is designating Scientific Studies Research Center Director Amr Armanazi under E.O. 13382. The SSRC is the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing nonconventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The SSRC also has a public civilian research function; however, its activities focus on the development of biological weapons, chemical weapons and missiles. During his tenure, Armanazi oversaw a facility that was involved in the production of sarin nerve agent.

AIRCRAFT OPERATED BY IRAN AIR, MAHAN AIR, YAS AIR

The Treasury Department is also identifying as blocked property 117 aircraft operated by Iran Air, Mahan Air and Yas Air. In the summer of 2012, Iran used Iran Air and Mahan Air flights between Tehran and Damascus to send military and crowd control equipment to the Syrian regime.

Iran has used deceptive measures when shipping such items to Syria. For example, a Turkish inspection in March 2011 of a Yas Air flight bound for Syria — which listed “auto spare parts” on its cargo manifest — found weapons, including Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, nearly 8,000 rounds of ammunition, and an assortment of mortar shells.

The recently enacted Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 provides sanctions for foreign financial institutions that facilitate transactions or provide financial services to persons whose property is blocked in connection with Iran’s support for the proliferation of WMD or for international terrorism. As a result, foreign financial institutions that engage in significant transactions with Syria’s Army Supply Bureau, BVPS, Iran Air, Mahan Air or Yas Air, including any of 117 aircraft operated by any of these airlines, risk losing access to the U.S. banking system.

Identifying information for the aircraft and the other entities is available on the Treasury Department website.