US imposes sanctions on Iranian firms, officials

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has hit two Iranian companies with sanctions for helping Iranian special forces export arms.

Tuesday's action also penalized a Nigerian shipping agent and three members of Iran's hardline Quds Force.

Americans are banned from doing business with the men or companies. Any U.S. assets they held are now frozen.

The Treasury Department said Yas Air and Quds officials Esmail Ghani, Sayyid Ali Akbar Tabatabaei and Hosein Aghajani shipped weapons to the Mideast and Africa as Iran sought to "evade international sanctions and export violence." The airline moved assault rifles and mortar shells to Syria under cover of humanitarian aid.

The department cited Behineh Trading's involvement in a shipment of grenades, rockets and mortars seized in Nigeria in 2010. Nigerian agent Ali Abbas Usman Jega was described as complicit.

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