World News

U.S. targets Syria oil delivery networks with new sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday it was imposing sanctions on four people and five entities it said facilitated petroleum shipments and financing to the Syrian government.

It said in a statement the sanctions targeted Muhammad al-Qatirji and his trucking company, which it said facilitated fuel trade between the Syrian government and Islamic State militants.

Qatirji has close relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and has worked directly with Islamic State, which has been driven out of much of the Syrian territory it once controlled, to provide it oil products, the statement said.

Also targeted by sanctions was a fuel-procurement network that operates in Syria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates to secure deliveries to Syria, the statement said.

“The United States will continue to target those who facilitate transactions with the murderous Assad regime and support ISIS,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, referring to the militant group by an acronym.

The Syria-based Qatirji Company has also shipped weapons to Syria from Iraq, the statement said.

It said Abar Petroleum Service SAL, one of the entities involved in the multi-state fuel network, last year brokered shipments of petroleum products including gasoline, gasoil, and liquefied petroleum gas to Syria worth more than $30 million.

Other components of the network were Adnan Al-Ali, Sonex Investments Ltd, Nasco Polymers & Chemicals, and Fadi Nasser, the U.S. statement said.

“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,” it said.

Nasser, chairman of Nasco Polymers, has received millions of dollars for arranging delivery of thousands of tons of fuel to Syria, the statement said.

UAE-based International Pipeline Construction was subjected to sanctions for being owned or controlled by Hesco Engineering, which facilitates payments originating in Syria, it said.

The sanctions mean any property in the United States of those targeted will be blocked and Americans are prohibited from doing business with them.

(The story corrects paragraph four to remove reference to Qatirji and his company facilitating fuel-procurement network)

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Eric Beech and Grant McCool