U.S. prisoner swap may help Iran arm Assad

Josh Rogin writes: In exchange for the release of four American prisoners, the Barack Obama administration agreed to free seven Iranians in U.S. custody and stop trying to arrest 14 others, two of whom the U.S. government had accused of funneling weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime and Hezbollah in Syria.

For years, Iran’s privately-owned Mahan Air has been using its planes to bring soldiers and arms directly to the Syrian military and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah by flying them from Tehran to Damascus, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In 2013, Treasury sanctioned Mahan’s managing director, Hamid Arabnejad, for overseeing the company’s efforts to evade U.S. and international sanctions and aiding the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force.

“Arabnejad has a close working relationship with IRGC-QF personnel and coordinates Mahan Air’s support and services to the paramilitary group,” the Treasury Department said. “He has also been instrumental in facilitating the shipment of illicit cargo to Syria on Mahan Air aircraft.” [Continue reading…]

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