US targets Iranian airlines for funneling fighters to Assad's Syria
Washington has issued sanctions on a number of Turkish companies due to their links to four leading Iranian airlines, the US treasury reported on Thursday.
The US said it was targeting companies and individuals for providing services and procuring spare parts for Iranian airlines.
Among the airlines targeted is Mahan Air, which "routinely" flies in arms and fighters to support Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the treasury claimed.
The Tehran-based airline played "a critical role in exporting the Iranian regime's malign influence" in the region, it added.
Mahan Air has been nicknamed the "Revolutionary Guard Airline" due to its support for the group's overseas Quds Force.
"The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and US goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Iranian airlines Mahan Air, Meraj Air, Caspian Air, and Pouya Air were all targeted in the new sanctions.
The treasury warned that other countries could be targeted for providing additional support to these airlines.
"Countries and companies around the world should take note of the risks associated with granting landing rights and providing aviation services to the airlines used by Iran to export terrorism throughout the region," Mnuchin added.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear agreement with Iran earlier this month and vowed tough new sanctions on the country.
Already, companies and individuals linked to Tehran have been targeted.
Iran has played a key role in supporting the Syrian regime during the country's seven-year war and Tehran has also been accused of backing Houthi rebels in Yemen.