Iranian ships have transported more than 16 million barrels of oil over the past six months to Syria, violating US sanctions, according to data from a body specialized in tracking tanker routes via satellite.
The Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” said that at least 17 shipments of eight tankers, called “Ghost” tankers, docked in the Syrian port of Baniyas, south of Latakia.
These carriers are called “stealth” because they turn off their systems, making it difficult to monitor their activities.
Bashar al-Assad’s regime relies almost entirely on oil from Iran to meet Syrian needs, with Damascus and other major cities suffering frequent power outages.
The newspaper indicates that the tankers are sailing under the Iranian flag, according to ship tracking data and satellite images from the “TankerTracker” website, which tracks crude oil shipments at several geographical and geopolitical points of importance.
According to the same data, 20 flights from Iran to Syria were monitored between November 2022 and April 2023, transporting about 17.1 million barrels of oil.
To avoid sanctions, Tehran is trying to deliver the oil secretly, and the tankers’ journey passes through the Suez Canal in Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
When the tankers reach the Mediterranean, they turn off the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Which determines the tanker’s speed, direction and weight of the cargo it carries, for a period of two weeks or more as it sails north towards Syria.
Despite this, the newspaper explains, the ships and their movements can be tracked via satellites, and the ships return from Syria via the Suez Canal, and their weight is revealed, which indicates unloading.
The newspaper concludes that the price of a barrel of oil ranged between 70 to 80 dollars during the past six months, indicating that the total value of what Iran transferred to Syria amounts to about 1.25 billion dollars.
The export of oil was considered one of Iran’s most important resources before 2018, when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear file, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on it, during the era of former US President Donald Trump.
Washington accuses Tehran of circumventing sanctions to export its oil to countries such as China, Syria and Venezuela.