EU sanctions mercenary recruiters in Syria

As a part of its “maintenance and alignment” package, the EU imposes sanctions on companies and persons in Syria known for their involvement in recruiting mercenaries to help Russia's invasive war effort in Ukraine.

On 21st of July, 2022, the European Council has adopted the “maintenance and alignment” package of sanctions in response to Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.


The package listed Russian financial institutions of size, such as Sberbank to the list of blacklisted entities, banning the institution from making transactions outside Russia. The package also included major political and cultural figures such as the mayor of Moscow, high-ranking military officials, political heads Russia has appointed to oversee the Ukrainian territories it occupied as well as clogs in Russia’s disinformation machine such as Nightwolves motorcycle club, and businesspeople instrumental in spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda.


Sanctions are imposed against political figures as well as clogs in Russia’s disinformation machine.


The decision also made mention of entities as a part of the military sector or the shipbuilding industry complicit in Russian schemes to steal Ukrainian grain.


Syrian mercenary recruiters sanctioned 


The Council’s package also targeted those who are involved in recruiting Syrian mercenaries to help Russia’s invasive war effort in Ukraine.




Under Syria sanctions, (Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP on Syria) the European Union designated Syrian private security company Sanad Protection and Security Services responsible for recruiting Syrian mercenaries to be deployed to Ukraine and Libya, along with its co-owners Ahmed Khalil Khalil and Nasser Deeb Deeb.



For the same breach of sanctions, the Council has also designated the commander of the Syrian Armed Forces 16th Brigade, Saleh Al-Abdullah and the owner of Cham Wings Airlines Issam Shammout. Cham Wings airlines was removed from the Union’s Belarus sanctions list on July 18.  Cham Wings was inclued in the list on grounds of the airlines’ alleged smuggling of migrants via Belarus; and the airlines was already blacklisted  by the U.S. for smuggling militants and equipment to Syria.


Another Syrian security company recruiting Syrian mercenaries to back the Russian war effort in Ukraine and Libya, Al-Sayyad Company for Guarding and Protection Services Ltd (also known as ISIS Hunters), was sanctioned under the Russia sanctions regime. The company’s  CEO Fawaz Mikhail Gerges, and co-owner Yasar Hussein IbrahimAbu Hani Shammout and Nabeul Al-Abdullah were designated, in addition to two other figures responsible for the recruitment of Palestinians for the same purpose and supporting the enrolment operation, Muhammad Al-Salti and Simon Al Wakil.


Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/1275 & Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2022/1277Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/1274 & Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1276Press Release.

The Meaning of Designations

The designation of Syrian persons and entities, the Council declared, a demonstration of the Union’s resolve to hold the Assad regime accountable for its role in helping Russian invasion of Ukraine. The designated are subject to asset freeze orders and EU citizens and companies are banned from making funds available to them. The sanctioned persons are also subjected to travel bans, forbidding them to travel to, or transit through EU territories.


The Council press release clarifies that the EU sanctions on Russia does not in any way target commerce involving agricultural or food products including wheat and fertilizers from third countries.


The EU sanctions imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine now applies to a total of 1212 individuals and 108 entities.