France bans Iranian airline flights

The French move follows Germany’s banning of Mahan Air over security concerns and amid U.S. pressure to sanction the airline.

By World Israel News Staff

France has banned flights in and out of the country by Iran’s Mahan Air, accusing it of transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other Middle East war zones, Reuters reported, citing diplomats on Monday who said that the move followed heavy U.S. pressure on Paris to act.

The decision to revoke Mahan’s license to operate in France was made after Germany banned the airline in January .

After consultations with European allies and the U.S., Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters, “It cannot be ruled out that this airline carries out transports to Germany that affect our security concerns.”

Mahan Air is on a U.S. sanctions list, and Washington has long urged allies to ban the airline from their territories. The U.S. imposed sanctions on the airline in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and Washington has been pressing its European allies to follow suit.

The airline had several weekly flights between Tehran and German cities and four flights a week to Paris from Tehran.

Paris had considered revoking its license more than two years ago under the presidency of Francois Hollande but backed down because it feared it could harm relations just after a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was reached in 2015, says Reuters.

Tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as President Emmanuel Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s ballistic missile tests, regional activities, and a foiled attack on an Iranian exile group in France, which Paris says Iranian intelligence was behind, the news agency reported.

Germany is seen as playing a large role in trying to salvage the nuclear deal with Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out last year.

Associated Press contributed to this report.