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U.S. sanctions Iraq-based company, says it backs Iran's IRGC

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday sanctioned an Iraqi company and two of its associates, which it said had helped Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds force evade sanctions by smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons.

“Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Qods Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defences against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC’s ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities,” Mnuchin added.

Wednesday’s sanctions targeted Baghdad-based South Wealth Resources Company, the statement said. Two of the entity’s associates, who the statement said helped facilitate weapons shipments and the company’s financial operations, were also sanctioned, it said.

U.S. officials said the company’s operation also benefited Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a previously sanctioned Iraqi adviser to IRGC-Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Washington previously sanctioned Iran’s elite IRGC in April, designating it a terrorist organization in an unprecedented move.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Susan Heavey; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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