Syria’s Cham Wings airline flew Qassem Soleimani to Baghdad shortly before the Iranian general was assassinated in a US strike, according to information reviewed by Levant Networks.
Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy chief coordinator Ali Fadavi said Friday that Soleimani — the leader of the IRGC’s elite Qods Force — “traveled from Syria to Iraq on a passenger plane” before he was killed outside Baghdad International Airport.
Fadavi added that the flight could even be tracked on aircraft flight information websites. An examination of FlightRadar24’s global playback data shows that Cham Wings flight SAW501 — which took took off from Damascus around 10:30 p.m. local time Thursday — landed in Baghdad shortly after 12:30 a.m. local time.
Al-Mayadeen, a Beirut based satellite station sympathetic to Iran, reported blasts at Baghdad International Airport shortly before 1:00 a.m. local time. The station was one of the first to say Soleimani had been killed in the dramatic US strike.
Cham Wings was sanctioned by the US in December 2016 for providing support and services to the Syrian government. According to the US Treasury, Cham Wings worked with Damascus to “transport militants to Syria” and assisted Syria’s Military Intelligence “in moving weapons and equipment.”
Cham Wings is owned by Syrian businessmen Issam Shammout, Nour Shammout, and Alaa Shammut, according to UAE-based business journal Al-Iqtisadi. In mid-December, Syria’s Transport Ministry announced a preliminary assets seize against Issam and Anwar Shammout over their unpaid debts to Syria Air, the country’s state airline.
In recent months, Cham Wings has started a Damascus-Beirut route for Syrians having trouble crossing the Lebanese-Syrian land-border due to road blockades amid the mass protests sweeping Lebanon.
Cham Wings also announced that it would begin a route from Damascus to Berlin, transiting via Beirut, in mid-December. However, Germany’s aviation authority told The National that it had not heard of the airline and did not receive any “applications for entry” from it.