Trump slaps 'terror' label on Iranian forces

Trump slaps 'terror' label on Iranian forces

Trump slaps 'terror' label on Iranian forces

The United States designated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, President Donald Trump said on Monday, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country's military a terrorist group.

In a statement, Mr Trump said the "unprecedented step" recognises that "the IRGC is the Iranian government's primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign".

Senior U.S. military commanders share Trump's concerns about Iran and the IRGC but long opposed the designation due to concern over a potential backlash against U.S. forces in the Middle East and the problems It could create for U.S. partners who have a relationship with Iran, U.S. officials say.

The U.S. decision, which critics warn could open U.S. military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments overseas, is expected to be announced by the State Department perhaps as early as Monday, the U.S. officials said last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the designation will take effect in one week.

The move blocks any assets that IRGC entities may have in US jurisdictions and bars Americans from any transactions with it.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move.

"Thank you for the answer to another important request that serves the interests of our country and the region", Mr. Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew.

The Supreme National Security Council, in a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA, declared the United States to be a state sponsor of terrorism and both called the US Central Command and forces underneath it terrorist groups.

"In fact, they seek to drag US into a quagmire on his behalf", he said, adding that Trump "should know better than to be conned into another USA disaster".

"We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behaviour".

His move marked an unprecedented step by the USA against an entire institution of a foreign government.

After US President Donald Trump took office, he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and set about clamping down on Tehran's influence in the Middle East, re-imposing a strict sanctions regime that was designed in part to curb the influence of the Guards.

A foreign ministry source told state news agency SANA that the U.S. move against the IRGC was "a blatant attack" on the sovereignty of Iran, a strong ally of the Syrian regime in the country's eight-year civil war. "The profits from what appear to be legitimate business deals can end up supporting the Iranian regime's terrorist agenda".

The Foreign Ministry sent a letter of protest to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which serves as a hub for USA interests there since dissolving formal relations with Iran.

The IRGC designation is seen as the latest in a series of steps Mr. Trump has taken to boost Mr. Netanyahu's fortunes, including USA recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier urged President Hassan Rouhani to place CENTCOM forces on Tehran's list of terror groups, his ministry said.

As Washington claimed, the Revolutionary Guards were providing assistance to the Syrian military, as well as backing the activities of the Hezbollah and Hamas, which the U.S. and some of its allies consider to be terrorist groups.

The Supreme National Security Council in a statement condemned Trump's move as "baseless" and warned of the consequences of its move for peace and security in the Middle East.

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