Russia is printing bank notes and sending them by the plane load to Syria to help the besieged regime pay its soldiers and civil servants, a new report suggests.
Flight records obtained by the investigative website ProPublica:Flight Records Say Russia Sent Syria Tons of Cash showed that at least 120 and up to 240 tons of bank notes were delivered during a ten-week period between July and September.
On eight round-trip trips between Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and Damascus international airport, the “Type of Cargo” is listed as “Bank – Notes (30 Ton)”. Neither their denomination nor value was specified however.
Seven of the eight Syria Air flights were confirmed through international plane-tracking services, photographs from amateur plane-spotters and official air traffic control records.
Each manifest detailed a circuitous route over Iran and Iraq, countries that are friendly to the Syrian regime, rather than the most direct route over Turkey, which has become a foe of President Bashar al-Assad.
The deliveries appear to have softened the damage caused to the Syrian regime by stiff European sanctions, which among other things annulled an agreement with an Austrian bank that had previously printed the Syrian pound.