- The United States has previously sanctioned Fars Air Qeshm for carrying weapons and IRGC personnel to Syria.
- Iran has also sent three fuel tankers to Venezuela to reduce severe fuel shortages in the South American country.
- Elliott Abrams, the US special envoy for Iran and Venezuela, told Fox News that the United States would also block the delivery of Iranian missiles to Venezuela.
According to Reuters, a Fars Air Qeshm plane, belonging to Mahan Iran, landed in Venezuela on Tuesday. The airline had started operating to transport cargo and personnel on the orders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The United States and Iran have not commented on the matter.
Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday, quoting a representative of the Venezuelan opposition, that an Iranian Fars Air Qeshm aircraft had landed in Venezuela.
The United States has previously sanctioned Fars Air Qeshm for carrying weapons and IRGC personnel to Syria.
Fars Air Qeshm is controlled by Mahan Air, which also has already been sanctioned by the United States. The US Treasury Department also placed Flight Travel LLC, based in Armenia, on its sanctions list.
Fars Air Qeshm’s activities have been stagnant until 2017, when, at the request of the Revolutionary Guards, passengers and cargo to Damascus were resumed by two B747 aircraft.
Reuters reports that the boeing air belonging to Fars Qeshm Air landed in Venezuela, at a time when trade relations between Iran and Venezuela are expanding. The two are members of OPEC, whose oil industries are under increasing US sanctions. The Reuters report, however, did not mention the shipment of Fars Air Qeshm aircraft.
Vargas Coast MP Jose Manuel Olivares tweeted that the plane landed at Maiquetía Airport. Data from the Flightradar24 flight tracking website show that the Iranian plane slowed down to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, at around 4 pm local time. The plane is said to have stopped in Tunisia before flying to Venezuela.
Venezuela’s Ministry of Intelligence has not responded to a Reuters question about the plane landing in the country. However, this is not the first time Iranian planes have flown to Venezuela. As of early 2020, Mahan Air had flown more than a dozen flights to help repair and deliver supplies to Venezuelan refineries.
Iran has also sent three fuel tankers to Venezuela to reduce severe fuel shortages in the South American country. The expansion of Iran-Venezuela relations has drawn criticism from US officials.
Mahan Air flights to Venezuela
The United States warned on Sunday that it would destroy a possible shipment of Iranian long-range missiles to the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Elliott Abrams, the US special envoy for Iran and Venezuela, told Fox News that the United States would also block the delivery of Iranian missiles to Venezuela.
Abrams said the transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela was unacceptable to the United States.
“The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” said Elliott Abrams. “We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there,” added a senior administration official.
“Iran has shipped missiles to the Houthis, so we know they are ready, willing, and able to ship them to Venezuela and other possible buyers,” said the administration official. “Every delivery of Iranian arms destabilizes South America and the Caribbean, and is especially dangerous to Venezuela’s neighbors in Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana.”