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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Slaps Commander of Iran's IRGC Basij Forces With Sanctions

Sputnik News

Tim Korso

The move comes as talks continue in Vienna between Iran and the US on lifting sanctions from the Islamic Republic in return for the latter's compliance with the provisions of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, so far the negotiations remain stalled due to the sides failing to find a tangible compromise.

The US Treasury has announced that it has slapped Gholamreza Soleimani, commander of the Basij forces, part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with economic sanctions.

In its announcement, the Treasury accused Soleimani of leading the Basij forces when they were involved in "violent crackdowns in Iran", including against protesters. The US department further claimed that the force was involved in the killings of "hundreds of Iranian men, women, and children".

The Basij forces were formed shortly after the Islamic Revolution and helped the new government fight in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, but later took on a different role, focusing on internal security and serving as an auxiliary to law enforcement and other policing bodies. The force is designated as a terrorist organisation in the US.

The Treasury also issued sanctions against several other Iranian entities and individuals allegedly involved in the "violent suppression of peaceful protesters and prisoners of conscience". The punitive measures were introduced against the Special Units of Iran's Law Enforcement Forces (LEF Special Units), their commander Hassan Karami, Qods city Governor Leila Vaseghi, Zahedan Prison in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, and Isfahan Central Prison. The sanctions also affected Brigadier General of the IRGC South-East Quds Operational Base Mohammad Karami, and the director of Qarchak Women's Prison, Soghra Khodadadi.

The new sanctions designations were announced as Tehran is attempting to negotiate with Washington the removal of all sanctions in exchange for returning to compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, so far the talks in Vienna have not been successful.

© Sputnik

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