March 28, 2023

Iran Update, March 28, 2023

Contributors: Anya Caraiani and James Motamad

The Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.

IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour claimed foreign-backed threats are the source of unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, possibly to set conditions to degrade Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid’s anti-regime following in Zahedan. Pakpour claimed that foreign-backed “evildoers and enemies” were responsible for unrest in the province and threatened to deal “severely” with these actors in a speech to local clan leaders, scholars, and critics in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on March 28.[i] The regime has both recently and historically blamed foreign actors to justify violently cracking down on domestic unrest.[ii] CTP has not observed any significant increase in violence in Zahedan that would warrant a regime security response. This suggests Pakpour’s statement referenced anti-regime protests inspired by Abdol Hamid, who has continuously criticized the regime during his Friday prayer sermons and generated significant in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province throughout the past several months.[iii]

Pakpour’s framing could provide the cover under which security services manage to confront individuals in Abdol Hamid’s clerical network or popular following as a matter of “national security.” The regime could be otherwise attempting to deter Abdol Hamid from escalating his rhetoric. Abdol Hamid has adjusted his rhetoric in response to the level of securitization in Zahedan. Abdol Hamid was emboldened in response to the decreased security presence since March 3, [iv] He directly violated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's rhetorical red line during his March 24 Friday prayer sermon, inverting Khamenei’s argument that addressing economic problems will solve Iran’s political and socio-cultural problems. Iranian social media users reported regime security forces have installed checkpoints in Zahedan and are monitoring the entrances and exits to the city, which suggests the regime may already be preparing for either course of action[v] The regime has previously established checkpoints in Zahedan to restrict movement into the city, as CTP previously reported.[vi]

Key Takeaways

  • IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour claimed foreign-backed threats are the source of unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, possibly to set conditions to degrade Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abol Hamid’s anti-regime following in Zahedan.
  • At least ten protests occurred in ten cities across 8 provinces in Iran.
  • Raisi administration officials continued to discuss Iran’s economic problems without presenting meaningful solutions to alleviate them.
  • The Iranian rial depreciated from 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27 to 524,500 rials to one US dollar.
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran responded to an invitation by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia at an unspecified date.
  • The Israeli Mossad issued a statement announcing that it aided Greek authorities thwart a plot by two Pakistani nationals with connections to Iran to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Greece.
  • The Emtidad Movement – an independent political bloc in Iraqi Parliament – announced that the party submitted an appeal on March 27 to overturn a list of election laws passed on March 26.
  • An IRGC Quds Force (QF) delegation visited locations struck by US airstrikes in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria on March 27, likely to assess and reconstitute forces.
  • The US and UK jointly sanctioned seven individuals affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime for their involvement in the production and exportation of captagon.

Internal Security and Protest Activity

At least ten protests occurred in ten cities across eight provinces on March 28. CTP assesses with moderate confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

Ardabil City, Ardabil Province[vii]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs and release imprisoned teachers

Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province[viii]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

Hamedan City, Hamedan Province[ix]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

Malayer, Hamedan Province[x]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province[xi]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Retirees

Izeh, Khuzestan Province[xii]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Children singing “Baraaye” by the grave of killed protester Hamed Salahshour

Zanjan City, Zanjan Province[xiii]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to pay their salaries and address their livelihood needs

CTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

Kermanshah City, Kermanshah Province[xiv]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

Baneh, Kurdistan Province[xv]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

Bojnord, North Khorasan Province[xvi]

  • Size: Small
  • Demographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs

 

Law Enforcement Command (LEC) Chief Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan stated that the LEC is attempting to increase police officer capabilities—in line with guidelines issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei— in Shiraz, Fars Province on March 28. Radan discussed internal security with Fars Province Supreme Leader Representative Ayatollah Loftollah Dezkham, who urged the Iranian public to issue “verbal reminders” on chastity and state-imposed, mandatory veiling standards.[xvii] LEC Political and Ideological Affairs Head Alireza Aydani separately stated that the LEC would deal decisively with “disorder, sedition, and rioting” on March 28.[xviii]

Economic Affairs

Raisi administration officials continued to discuss Iran’s economic problems without presenting meaningful solutions to alleviate them on March 28. President Ebrahim Raisi ordered Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sowlat Mortazavi to create employment opportunities in “provinces with high unemployment rates” during a meeting of the Supreme Employment Council on March 28.[xix] Central Bank of Iran Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin separately stated that the Central Bank is “trying its hardest” to reduce inflation on March 27.[xx] Program and Budget Organization Head Massoud Mir Kazemi similarly stated that if the government “acts seriously,” it will be able to reduce Iran’s inflation to below 20 percent on March 27.[xxi] Neither Farzin nor Kazemi specified how the government should reduce inflation, however. Various government officials and institutions announced in recent days that Iran‘s inflation rate is between 40 to 50 percent, as CTP previously reported.[xxii] The government’s inability to address Iran’s worsening economic conditions will likely fuel further frustration among the population. CTP recorded nine economically motivated protests on March 28 alone.

The Iranian rial depreciated from 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27 to 524,500 rials to one US dollar on March 28.[xxiii]

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy

Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated on March 27 that Iran responded to an invitation by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia at an unspecified date. Amir Abdollahian told Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem that Iran will offer to reciprocally host the monarch.[xxiv] UK-based Amwaj Media separately reported on March 28 that such official visits will likely occur in the early summer, when embassies are estimated to reopen.[xxv]

The Egyptian Tourism Ministry announced on March 28 that Egypt will soon grant visas upon arrival for some Iranians entering South Sinai. The ministry added that Egypt will “evaluate the experience of [Iranians’] arrival in South Sinai as a first step, and building on that, determine if [Iranians] will be admitted in other places."[xxvi]

External Security and Military Affairs

At least three protests occurred in three cities across three provinces in Iraq on March 28. CTP assesses with high confidence that two protest occurred in the following location:

Al Hilla, Babil Province[xxvii]

  • Size: Medium
  • Protester Activity: Protester chanted calling to remove Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker from office

Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Province[xxviii]

  • Size: Medium
  • Protester Activity: Protesters held a sit-in at al Halbousi Square
  • Protest Suppression: Unidentified security forces dispersed protesters at al Halbousi Square; Unidentified security forces burned down and disassembled protesters’ tents and removed concrete barriers from local roads

Samawah, Muthanna Province[xxix]

  • Size: Small
  • Protester Activity: Protesters displayed anti-Coordination Framework posters

The Emtidad Movement – an independent political bloc in Iraqi Parliament – announced that the party submitted an appeal on March 27 to overturn a list of election laws passed on March 26.[xxx] The Emtidad Movement claimed that Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed al Halbousi violated parliamentary procedures by removing several members of independent political parties from the voting session on March 26 following an argument between Coordination Framework members and independent political parties.[xxxi]

A senior unnamed Sadrist official claimed that the State of Law Coalition-backed election laws will not impact the Sadrist Movement.[xxxii] The official argued that Sadrist Movement followers are loyal, and that the movement can position itself to undermine attempts to block the movement from obtaining seats in parliament. The same official claimed that Moqtada al Sadr – the head of the Sadrist Movement – has not given instructions for the political party to participate in local or legislative elections.

An IRGC Quds Force delegation visited locations struck by US airstrikes in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria on March 27, likely to assess and reconstitute forces. IRGC Central Support officer Hajj Shafea – a likely nom de guerre– led a delegation from Damascus to Dier ez Zor Province to visit Iranian-backed militia positions damaged by US airstrikes on March 24, according to the independent Syrian media outlet Sada al Sharqieh.[xxxiii] Anti-Syrian regime media outlet Eye of the Euphrates reported that senior IRGC Quds Force leaders held a private meeting to identify leaks within Iranian-backed militias and expand recruitment efforts on March 27.[xxxiv] Turkish-based news outlet Syria TV reported IRGC Quds Force leadership held a separate meeting with tribal Sheiks in Deir ez Zor City on March 27 to discuss establishing a new tribal militia with 2,000 members.[xxxv]

The Israeli Mossad issued a statement announcing that it aided Greek authorities thwart a plot by two Pakistani nationals with connections to Iran to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Greece.[xxxvi] The Mossad added that the Pakistani individuals were members of a “wide Iranian network that operates from Iran and out of many countries.”[xxxvii]

The US and UK jointly sanctioned seven individuals affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime for their involvement in the production and exportation of captagon.[xxxviii] The UK government issued a statement describing captagon as a “financial lifeline” for the Assad regime worth 57 billion US dollars.[xxxix] Captagon is a highly addictive amphetamine drug with approximately 80 percent of its supply originating from Syria.[xl] The sanctioned individuals are closely involved with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army’s captagon manufacturing and smuggling operations.[xli]


[i] https://defapress dot ir/fa/news/580534/%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%AE%D8%B7-%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA

[ii] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-september-28 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-february-1-2023#_edn9ecf78cc535d397011837178674bb71a1d4200a601c1f57650da25680a490e6dref7 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023#_edn9ecf78cc535d397011837178674bb71a2eb8eab8d781ff99d635e1fbeacbf96cref7

[iii] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-21#_edn9ecf78cc535d397011837178674bb71a1384127f8b5d8a4d9176f016fae1b18fref1 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-5 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-december-21 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-27-2023#_edn9ecf78cc535d397011837178674bb71a026d00ed2291d3835c561b150b40d4b1ref17 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-10-2023#_edn9ecf78cc535d397011837178674bb71ae11dd123cc432c1e2defbdbb78d95a09ref9

[iv] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023

[v] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640073344161574915?s=20

[vi] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-19-2023 

[vii] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640699509654134788?cxt=HHwWiIC9gdzg98QtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640668422538182656?cxt=HHwWgIC2-ZrP6cQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640806660821209104?cxt=HHwWoMC-td69qMUtAAAA

[viii] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640704779893481473?cxt=HHwWgoCxrb6T-sQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640689306783170561?cxt=HHwWgoC-2eqO88QtAAAA

[ix] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640732550925635584?cxt=HHwWgMC-1fzjhsUtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640697784159313920?cxt=HHwWgICxiaT89sQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640660361887072258?cxt=HHwWhIC-tYL65cQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640733905278959617?cxt=HHwWgoC8seeyh8UtAAAA

[x] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640701318313525249?cxt=HHwWgoC-yf_J-MQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640684288860385282?cxt=HHwWhMCzoeDq8MQtAAAA

[xi] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640667037121773568?cxt=HHwWgICw5cj-6MQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640665687432519681?cxt=HHwWgoCz6YCw6MQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640668447955734536?cxt=HHwWkMC-qdjQ6cQtAAAA

[xii] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640817323685675008?cxt=HHwWgIC8-bKqrcUtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640785367245660175?cxt=HHwWnoCx9aTmnsUtAAAA

[xiii] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640732550925635584?cxt=HHwWgMC-1fzjhsUtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640703134040293380?cxt=HHwWiIC85dez-cQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640684288860385282?cxt=HHwWhMCzoeDq8MQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640734083595620353?cxt=HHwWgsC--Ze9h8UtAAAA

 

[xiv] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640678095039483912?cxt=HHwWkMC-2ZyC7sQtAAAA ;

https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640668422538182656?cxt=HHwWgIC2-ZrP6cQtAAAA

[xv] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640676291002204168?cxt=HHwWkIC8yZuZ7cQtAAAA

[xvi] https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640689306783170561?cxt=HHwWgoC-2eqO88QtAAAA

[xvii] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/08/2872543/سردار-رادان-پلیس-جمع-آوری-مقتدرانه-معتادان-متجاهر-و-سارقان-را-آغاز-کرد

[xviii] https://www.ilna dot ir/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-5/1343869-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA

[xix] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068344/%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A2%D9%81%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C

[xx] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068389/%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4-%D9%85%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%DB%B2%DB%B0-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3%DB%B0-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85

[xxi] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068395/%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B8%D9%85%DB%8C-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DB%B3%DB%B0-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85

[xxii] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-27-2023

[xxiii] https://bonbast dot com/

[xxiv] https://alkhaleejonline dot news/%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B2%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7

[xxv] https://amwaj.media/media-monitor/after-invitation-by-king-salman-iran-set-to-reciprocate-saudi-offer

[xxvi] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/egypt-allow-iranians-visas-arrival-sinai-regional-tensions-ease-2023-03-28/

[xxvii] https://t.me/sabreenS1/72809 ;

 

[xxviii]  https://t.me/wa3ediq/66933 ; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1640696931180593158 ; https://twitter.com/nasiriyahnews/status/1640283387016495104 ; https://twitter.com/Gil_msh1/status/1640659149452107777?s=20

[xxix] https://twitter.com/AlmirbadMedia/status/1640780928975773711  

[xxx] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/node/6323527

[xxxi] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%88%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%AF-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9 https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%86%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B6%D9%8A%D9%86 %84%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A ;

 

[xxxii] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%82-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%B4-%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%88

[xxxiii] https://www.facebook.com/SadaAlSharqieh/posts/pfbid0BWqwwD4SmezZFhD5QCkKqz2aPqcqU1j4nJoxcYZo8WRiNng3HkgyzcYCVLnMkFgil

[xxxiv] https://eyeofeuphrates dot com/index.php/ar/news/2023/03/27/8078

[xxxv] https://www.syria dot tv/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B4%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%86%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B0%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7 ;

https://www.jesrpress dot com/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ad%d8%b1%d8%b3-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ab%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a5%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%8a-%d9%8a%d8%b4%d8%af%d8%af-%d9%82%d8%a8%d8%b6%d8%aa%d9%87-%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%89-%d9%82/ ;

[xxxvi] https://www dot timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/mossad-says-it-helped-foil-planned-iranian-attack-on-jewish-targets-in-greece/

[xxxvii] https://www dot timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/mossad-says-it-helped-foil-planned-iranian-attack-on-jewish-targets-in-greece/

 

[xxxviii] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1369; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tackling-the-illicit-drug-trade-fuelling-assads-war-machine

[xxxix] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tackling-the-illicit-drug-trade-fuelling-assads-war-machine

[xl] https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/03/new-us-sanctions-target-syrias-captagon-trade-linked-assad

[xli] https://newlinesinstitute.org/power-vacuums-program/special-captagon-trade-project/

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