Fly Baghdad suspends operations amid US sanctions

A Fly Baghdad 737 in flight.
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad, which is now subject to US sanctions, has announced the complete suspension of its operations and the cancellation of all flights until further notice. 

“In accordance with the decision of the government and Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, Fly Baghdad will cease operating flights from now until further notice,” said the airline. 

The measures were taken in connection with “an investigation conducted by a specially formed committee” and which will have to “prove the illegality of the sanctions imposed on the company.”

Fly Baghdad also noted the measures led to the freezing of its bank accounts. As a result, the carrier has asked the Iraqi government for assistance in transporting its customers.

Imposition of US sanctions

On 22 January 2024, the US imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and six legal entities for connections with Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Fly Baghdad was blacklisted for “providing support”, which the airline has denied. 

In a statement released this week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO for providing assistance to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its proxy groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

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“Iran and its proxies have sought to abuse regional economies and use seemingly legitimate businesses as cover for funding and facilitating their attacks,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson.

“The United States will continue to disrupt Iran’s illicit activities aimed at undermining the stability of the region.”

Fly Baghdad allegations

In their statement, the US Department of the Treasury alleged that for several years, Iraqi airline Fly Baghdadhas supported the operations of the IRGC-QF and its proxies by delivering materiel and personnel throughout the region.

“Fly Baghdad flights have delivered shipments of weapons to Damascus International Airport in Syria for transfer to members of the IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups on the ground in Syria, including the Syrian Arab Republican Guard, Lebanese Hizballah, KH, and the KH-affiliated Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade,” the statement continued.

“OFAC designated the Syrian Arab Republican Guard in 2016 for its role in perpetuating violence on the Syrian people, and State designated Hizballah as an FTO in 1997 and as an SDGT in 2001 for engaging in acts of terror.”

“Fly Baghdad has delivered to these groups operating in Syria a range of weapons, including Iranian-made Fateh, Zulfiqar, and al-Fajr series missiles, as well as AK-47s, RPG-7s, and other grenades and machine guns.”

Fly Baghdad is being designated by the Department for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF. 

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Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad has suspended operations and cancelled all flights following the imposition of U.S. sanctions on the carrier this week.
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