U.S. officials have uncovered an effort by Iran to help Syria
mask its oil exports and evade an American and European embargo, in a
potent new sign of Tehran's campaign to bolster Syrian President Bashar
al Assad as his regime cracks down on public opposition.
American officials investigating the Iranian
operation said it was designed to quietly ship Syrian crude oil to
Iran, where it can be sold on the international market, with revenue
going back to Damascus. Transit records document one such shipment -- involving more than 100,000 tons of crude -- which took place last month.
"The oil shipment to Iran was designed to
evade the sanctions that have been imposed on Syria," said a senior U.S.
Treasury Department official familiar with the case.
In response, the treasury department has
begun targeting the insurance and registration of international tankers
shipping Syrian oil overseas. Many are insured in the U.S.
Concerns aren't limited to Iran. Washington
and its allies are also intensifying the scrutiny of maritime and air
traffic moving into Syria from >>>
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