Germany has bowed to U.S. pressure to ban from its airspace an Iranian airline accused of ferrying weapons and advisers to help support President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in Syria’s civil war.
A senior German government source told Reuters on Monday that Berlin had revoked the landing rights of Mahan Air due to suspicions that it was being used for military purposes by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and also on safety grounds.
The measure did not constitute the imposition of general sanctions against Iran, the source said.
The withdrawal of Mahan’s operating license, first reported by Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and public broadcasters NDR and WDR, follows a concerted campaign by the United States, which first listed the airline as a sanctions target in 2011.
In September, Richard Grenell, the outspoken U.S. ambassador to Berlin, tweeted his objections to the airline continuing to operate in Germany. “Mahan Air has routinely flown fighters and material to Syria to prop up the Assad regime,” a linked embassy press release stated.
“Why is Mahan Air allowed to fly into Munich and Duesseldorf,” he asked on Twitter. “I’m going to keep asking everyday [sic].” The statement also threatened companies that dealt with Mahan with U.S. sanctions.
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