US says Thai company helped blacklisted Iran airline

The U.S. government on Friday imposed sanctions on a Thailand-based company it says provides services to an Iranian airline that Washington accuses of supporting terrorist activities directed by Iran's government.

The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that My Aviation Co. Ltd., headquartered in Bangkok, "provides cargo services to Mahan Air, to include freight booking," as well as passenger booking services. Mahan Air's website lists six weekly flights to the Thai capital, Bangkok.

It said the privately owned Iranian airline "has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which has contributed to mass atrocities in the country and the displacement of millions of innocent civilians."

The sanctions order blocks the Thai company's assets in the United States and generally prohibits U.S. citizens from doing business with it. The order was announced after working hours in Thailand, and no comment was immediately available from My Aviation.

"Mahan Air continues to fly into Syria every week, even as millions of innocent civilians in Idlib province are under threat of imminent attack from the murderous Assad regime and its backers in Iran and Russia. Treasury is cutting off yet another service provider acting on behalf of Mahan Air, a sanctioned airline that transports soldiers and supplies to Assad and fuels terrorist activities across the region," the statement quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as saying.

"This Thailand-based company has disregarded numerous U.S. warnings, issued publicly and delivered bilaterally to the Thai government, to sever ties with Mahan Air," Mnuchin said. "This action should serve as a warning that the U.S. is intent on ensuring that the aviation industry ceases providing services to, and profiting from, this terrorist-affiliated airline."

The United States has sanctioned Mahan Air for multiple instances of supporting groups it designated as terrorists, including transporting weapons and personnel for Hizballah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The sanctions order against My Aviation was applied under two Treasury Department programs, covering Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations and Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations.

One other Thailand-based company has been sanctioned under the same programs.

"Asian Aviation Logistics also acts for or on behalf of Mahan Air and helps the airline evade sanctions by making payments on behalf of Mahan Air for the purchase of engines and other equipment," the Treasury Department said in 2014. "Asian Aviation Logistics also employs at least one Mahan Air official."