Congress demands investigation, imposition of new sanctions
New photographs obtained by congressional leaders show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights, a move that violates the landmark nuclear agreement and has sparked calls from U.S. lawmakers for a formal investigation by the Trump administration, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.
Photographs published by a Washington, D.C., think-tank and provided to Congress show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants to Syria, where they have joined the fight against U.S. forces in the region.
The new photographic evidence has roiled congressional leaders, who accuse Iran of violating the nuclear deal, which prohibits it from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. These lawmakers are demanding the Trump administration investigate the matter and consider imposing new sanctions on Iran.
The release of these photographs allegedly showing Iran Air’s illegal activity comes as top U.S. air carrier manufacturer Boeing moves forward with a multi-billion dollar deal to sell Iran Air a new modern fleet. Many in Congress have opposed the deal due to Iran’s longstanding use of commercial aircraft for military purposes, such as transporting weapons and troops to regional hotspots such as Syria and elsewhere. It remains unclear the extent to which the former Obama administration was aware of this activity, which came in part while it was promoting Western airline sales to Tehran.
Iran Air’s central role in the illicit transportation of militant forces to Syria could complicate Boeing’s efforts to move forward with the sale, which still requires approval from the Trump administration’s Treasury Department.
The Treasury Department has vowed in the past to consider and investigate any new evidence revealing Iran’s illicit use of commercial aircraft. The lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to make good on this promise.
The new photographs, reportedly taken in 2016 and 2017, show Iranian fighters aboard Iran Air planes on their way to Syria to pick up arms in support of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
The militants are believed to be affiliated with the Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Afghan Shiite militia, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which first disclosed the photographs to Congress.
“These photos seem to display militiamen sitting on seats clearly labeled with the Iran Air logo,” the lawmakers inform the Treasury Department. “These individuals are not Afghani civilians; they are believed to be members of an Iranian-backed militia, trained and funded by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), actively fighting for the Assad regime in the Syria.”
The issue has become all the more pressing in light of recent attacks by Iranian-backed militias on U.S. forces operating in Syria.
Full article: Iran Caught Shipping Soldiers to Syria on Commercial Flights in Violation of Nuclear Deal (Washington Free Beacon)