Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) led a letter with 10 of his colleagues to the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Wednesday requesting the department outline its plan of action to deter Iranian crude oil shipments to Syria following reports of an uptick in shipments to the Assad regime.
“After nearly eliminating Iranian crude oil deliveries to Assad in the wake of reinstituted sanctions, reports indicate that five oil tankers made deliveries in May and early June to be processed by Syrian refineries,” the letter states. “This sharp uptick is a concerning trend, which demands a response.”
“The Assad regime has brutalized the Syrian people, and it is critical to the security of the world and the United States that we prevent Assad from gaining the financial lifeline his regime needs to continue its devastating attacks,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “We must sustain our pressure on the Iranian regime and work to close any sanctions loopholes, escalate enforcement and ensure that any tankers involved in this trade are prevented from reaching their intended destination.”
Despite pressure applied globally by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Department of State and Coast Guard in March of this year, Iran has continued to defy U.S. sanctions and sent secret shipments of oil to Syria, including on the Grace 1 tanker captured by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar in July. These shipments are part of a sustained effort by Iran to bolster the fragile Assad regime and enable Hamas and Hezbollah to elude sanctions. Congressman Gonzalez’s letter, signed by 11 members of Congress, asks the Department of the Treasury to determine how many vessels have been involved in shipping Iranian oil to Syria and outline its plan of action to deter the facilitation of logistics and designate tankers and their operators in cases where sanctions may not be directly applicable.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Americans for a Free Syria: "Iran has quite literally fueled Assad's war against Syrian civilians and sowed mass chaos in Syria and the region. Congressman Gonzalez is taking the right steps to ensure that U.S. sanctions help civilians by choking off Iran's financial and military support to the Syrian regime's war effort altogether.”
Syrian American Council: "We appreciate Congressman Gonzalez raising this issue with the Trump Administration. Congress has an active role to play in averting Iran from propping up a regime in Syria responsible for mass atrocities and war crimes against its own people.”