U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Alleged Oil Smuggler, Firms Linked to Iran's Quds Force

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The funeral of the Qassem Soleimani, top commander of the elite Quds Force last year.
The funeral of the Qassem Soleimani, top commander of the elite Quds Force last year.Credit: Khalid al-Mousily / Reuters

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday it was imposing sanctions on an alleged oil smuggler and companies it said provide support to the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a statement.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi and a network of businesses, it said.

Iranian oil tankers have been increasingly accused of smuggling oil out of the country and selling the lucrative crude abroad after Trump reimposed sweeping sanctions on the country, including on its oil sector, a main source of income for Tehran.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at least a dozen naval vessels, both Iranian and those carrying Iranian cargo, have been targeted by Israel since 2019 in drone strikes, fearing that oil sales are funding regional extremism.

In 2019, the U.K. seized an Iranian oil tanker suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, setting off a series of confrontations. Iranian tankers sometimes turn off their identification system, making them difficult to track.

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