The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on a network facilitating financial support for Iran’s military, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. The network involved six firms, two tankers, and a money exchanger operating across Liberia, India, Vietnam, Lebanon, and Kuwait. These entities are accused of aiding these groups through commodity shipments and financial transactions.

This action comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East. Hezbollah and the Houthis have intensified attacks since the recent Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on northern Israel and the Houthis’ drone strikes on Red Sea shipping have raised international concerns about a wider regional escalation.

Hezbollah remains defiant despite suffering significant losses and Israeli airstrikes within Lebanon. They insist they will only stop attacking Israel if the Gaza conflict ends. The Houthis, controlling Yemen’s north and west, continue their attacks on shipping, claiming they pressure Israel to halt its Gaza offensive. U.S.-led airstrikes have failed to deter their campaign.

Separate Sanctions Target Syria’s War Economy

In a separate announcement, the Treasury Department sanctioned 11 individuals and entities linked to the Syrian government. These sanctions target those helping Syria evade sanctions, finance its war effort, and participate in the illicit Captagon trade.

Captagon, a highly addictive amphetamine, has become a major revenue source in war-torn Syria. Treasury sanctioned Taher al-Kayali, a Syrian national, and his company for allegedly using cargo ships to smuggle Captagon to Europe. Mahmoud Abulilah Al-Dj and his companies were also sanctioned for trafficking Captagon and collaborating with al-Kayali. Notably, Al-Dj acts as the exclusive agent for sanctioned Syrian airline Cham Wings in Libya.

Experts believe Captagon production primarily occurs in Syria and Lebanon, with millions of pills smuggled into surrounding regions and beyond. This trade is suspected to have ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his associates, and Hezbollah. Western governments estimate the Captagon industry generates billions for Syria, prompting significant concern from Arab neighbors like Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The sanctions also target Maya Exchange Company in Syria, a Russian bank official, and a Syrian central bank official accused of using the exchange company to make payments. Additionally, sanctions were imposed on STF Logistic, a company generating significant revenue for the Syrian government through mining rights, and its intermediary, Grains Middle East Trading.

These sanctions aim to disrupt financial support for Iran-backed groups and cripple Syria’s war economy, particularly the Captagon trade. This action reflects ongoing U.S. efforts to address regional instability and hold perpetrators accountable for human rights abuses in Syria.

Source » timesofisrael