The US Treasury Department on Thursday said that it was imposing sanctions on two Iranian militias made up of Afghan and Pakistani refugees, including children, and sent as “cannon fodder” to fight alongside the Assad regime.
The Fatemiyoun Division and Zaynabiyoun Brigade prey on the millions of undocumented migrants and refugees in Iran “coercing them to fight in Syria under threat of arrest or deportation,” the designation said.
“The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran, deprives them of access to basic services such as education, and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
The Fatemiyoun Division targets Afghans while the the Zaynabiyoun Brigade is comprised mostly of Pakistanis.
The sanctions are part of an “ongoing pressure campaign to shut down the illicit networks the regime uses to export terrorism and unrest across the globe,” Mnuchin added.
The sanctions, issued by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, also targeted two companies linked to the blacklisted Iranian airline Mahan Air and two aircraft.
The Treasury Department also sanctioned an Armenian based company, Flight Travel LLC, for providing services to Mahan.
The sanctions mean all property and interests in the US of the groups are blocked and anyone who engages with them may also be targeted.
The Washington Free Beacon website quoted US officials as saying that the Trump administration is locked in a diplomatic push to convince European allies to ban Mahan Air which is known to be engaged in illicit transport and espionage operations.
The US administration is seeking to expand the German ban on Mahan Air across the European Union, a move that would deal a severe blow to Tehran’s international reach, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019 to impose new sanctions on the Assad regime and its supporters one day after the European Union slammed new sanctions on individuals and entities directly linked to the regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)