Source AP ©

United States impose sanctions on Syrian navy and air force

The United States has imposed sanctions on 14 foreign people, companies and government agencies, including the Syrian navy and air force, as it boosts efforts to stop transfers of advanced weaponry to and from Iran and Syria.

The 14 which also include Lebanon's radical Hezbollah movement and firms from China, Malaysia, Mexico and Singapore are accused of selling to or buying from Iran or Syria missile technology or material to make weapons of mass destruction.

The sanctions, announced by the State Department on Monday, bar any U.S. aid, government contracts or export licenses to the named entities for two years. They may be renewed at any time during that period.

State Department officials refused to comment on specific allegations against those listed in the notice because the determinations involved sensitive intelligence. But, they said Washington had "credible evidence" they had been involved in illicit transfers.

The measures are largely symbolic because many of the targets are already subject to U.S. sanctions for previous similar transactions, most recently in December 2006, officials said.

However, the Syrian navy and air force, have never before been identified as violators of the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act, they said.

Neither has Hezbollah, which is backed by both Syria and Iran and is covered by existing U.S. sanctions because it is designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the United States, they said.

Other violators named in Monday's notice are:

- The China National Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CPMIEC)

- The Shanghai Non-Ferrous Metals Pudong Development Trade Company of China

- The Zibo Chemet Equipment Company of China

- Iran's Defense Industries Organization

- Singapore's Sokkia company

- Syria's Army Supply Bureau

- Syria's Industrial Establishment of Defense

- Malaysia's Challenger Corporation of Malaysia

- Malaysia's Target Airfreight

- Mexico's Aerospace Logistics Services

- A Pakistani individual named Arif Durrani