The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the entity in the US Department of the Treasury responsible for administering and enforcing the US's economic and trade sanctions, has added Syrian carrier Cham Wings Airlines (6Q, Damascus) to its Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN). The airline was already placed on the US Commerce Department's Entity List in August 2011.

SDNs are defined as individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. Given the nature of the embargo, the US Treasury will act to freeze all of an SDN's assets under US jurisdiction while barring US citizens from dealing with them

In its latest update, which also targetted Syria's Ministers of Finance, Transport, Communications & Technology, and Oil as well as officials in Syria's Central Bank, OFAC claimed Cham Wings continues to have ties to the country's already sanctioned national carrier, Syrianair (RB, Damascus), as well as the Syrian government at large.

"Cham Wings has cooperated with Government of Syria officials to transport militants to Syria to fight on behalf of the Syrian regime and assisted the previously-designated Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI) in moving weapons and equipment for the Syrian regime, including by utilizing a relationship with another Syria-based airline, FlyDamas (FDK, Damascus)," the proclamation said. "Cham Wings’s Damascus-to-Dubai Int'l flight was one of the main routes SMI used to launder money throughout the region, with SMI paying all parties involved to ensure they would continue to do business with the Assad regime."

In a statement to ch-aviation, Cham Wings' Commercial Director, Nizar Suliman, said the airline was "shocked and surprised" about the US government's claims.

"Cham Wings airlines is a Syrian private commercial airline, owned and managed completely by a Syrian family business. For Syrians, travelling to any given destination in the world is more complicated than ever due to the current crisis in our country. Thus, Syrians have very limited choices and only the national carrier, Syrian Airlines [sic] and the private one Cham Wings, are trying hard to meet the traveling demands in our market and help Syrians, particularly from the humanitarian perspective to travel abroad.

"In fact, all recent sanctions inevitably affect ordinary Syrian citizens because of the added pressures on resources, prices and consequently, real incomes."

OFAC blacklisted Syrianair in 2013 for its alleged assistance to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards in the shipment of illegal cargo - including rockets, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition - to aid the Syrian government. Cham Wings has acted as the country's unofficial national carrier ever since enjoying access to Syrianair's traffic right allocations among other privileges.

Founded in 2007 by the Shammout Trading Group, Cham Wings Airlines operates two A320-200s on scheduled passenger flights to Kameshli domestically and Baghdad, Khartoum, Kuwait, Muscat, Najaf, and Tehran Imam Khomeini internationally.

Shammout Trading Group's Issam Shammout was listed as an SDN by OFAC in May 2015 after he and his proxy firm, Sky Blue Bird Aviation, allegedly helped banned Iranian carrier Mahan Air (W5, Tehran Mehrabad) procure aircraft and parts in contravention of US primary sanctions against Iran.