Iran is helping Syria skirt the sanctions imposed on it by the US and other Western countries by providing it with a vessel to transport oil to China, Reuters has reported quoting sources.
Syria is one of the closest allies of Iran and the move indicates that both the countries, facing economic challenges due to the Western sanctions, would exploit all possible means to overcome the sanctions.
Western countries imposed the sanctions on the Bashar al-Assad government over the bloodshed in Syria. However, China is not bound by the sanctions and had vetoed two UN resolutions that called for sanctions against Syria.
Though Syria negotiated a deal to sell oil at discounted rate to Chinese Corporation, yet it couldn't find a vessel to transport the oil. Iran provided them with the vessel and the deal, which amount to $80 million, is expected to serve a breather to the al-Assad government's cash-starved economy, according to the Reuters report.
The Syrians planned to sell the oil directly to the Chinese but they could not find a vessel, said an industry source who added that he had been asked to help Sytrol execute the deal but did not take part, the report said.
The shipping vessel owned by Iranian firm ISIM Tour Limited had been arranged by Iranian authorities and it had already picked up its cargo and was heading towards China or Singapore via Egypt, the report said.
According to the report, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp - a Chinese state run corporation - was the buyer. However, the company spokeswoman refuted the allegations as never heard about this.
The US has already placed sanctions on Zhuhai Zhenrong as it supplies refined petroleum products to Iran. However, if China goes ahead with buying oil from Syria and Iran, it could be of concern to the West, who is trying to squeeze these countries of the foreign reserves to force them follow UN resolutions.