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"The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil from an Egyptian port in the last nine months, shipping and payments documents show, part of an under-the-radar trade that has kept his military running despite Western sanctions…Dozens of shipping and payment documents viewed by Reuters show that millions of barrels of crude delivered to Assad’s government on Iranian ships has actually come from Iraq, through Lebanese and Egyptian trading companies. The trade, which is denied by the firms involved, has proven lucrative, with companies demanding a steep premium over the normal cost of oil in return for bearing the risk of shipping it to Syria. It also highlights a previously undisclosed role of Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon in Assad’s supply chain, despite those countries’ own restrictions on assisting his government. Both the Syrian national oil company that received the oil, Sytrol, and the Iranian shipping operator that delivered it, the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC), are on U.S. and EU sanctions lists barring them from doing business with U.S. or European firms, cutting them off from the U.S. and EU financial systems and freezing their assets…At least four firms from third countries that were added to the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions list for Iran when it was last updated on Dec. 12 were punished specifically ‘for providing material support to NITC,’ the Treasury said. ’We have been very focused on targeting Iranian attempts to aid the Assad regime through economic as well as military means,’ said a Treasury Department spokesman. He declined to comment on the specific activities described in the documents reviewed by Reuters but said companies and individuals had been added to the sanctions list for similar types of activity…The documents refer to at least four shipments by four tankers named Camellia, Daisy, Lantana and Clove, each of which is operated by Iran’s NITC and, say the documents, carried Iraqi oil from Egypt’s Mediterranean port of Sidi Kerir to Syria. According to the documents, Beirut-based trading firm Overseas Petroleum Trading (OPT) invoiced Syria for arranging at least two of the shipments and was involved in a third, while a Cairo-based firm, Tri-Ocean Energy, was responsible for loading Iraqi oil into at least one. Both OPT and Tri-Ocean denied any involvement in the Syria trade, declining to offer an alternative explanation for what the documents and ship tracking data show. An EU country government source said Tri-Ocean is already under scrutiny by the United States for suspected violations of sanctions against Iran, giving no further details. The U.S. Treasury spokesman declined to comment on specific investigations…Egyptian oil firm Tri-Ocean Energy, which has brokered deals for OPT in the past, loaded at least one cargo of Iraqi crude onto an Iranian tanker that was delivered into Syria by OPT at the end of May, according to the documents, which say the oil was delivered to Syria on the Iranian tanker Clove on May 26. Tri-Ocean’s senior trading director Ali Tolba denied in an email that his company supplied Syria with crude or had loaded Iraqi oil onto Iranian tankers. He and Tri-Ocean’s CEO, Mohammed el-Ansary, did not respond to a request from Reuters to review the documents seen by Reuters. Syria’s Sytrol did not respond.” ( Reuters, “ RPT-EXCLUSIVE-Assad’s secret oil lifeline: Iraqi crude from Egypt,” 12/24/13)