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US officials: Naming as terrorist group not mean targeting IRGC

Tehran, Some of US officials in an interview with Reuters have said that the US president' decision to name Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as terrorist organization did not mean the US military would start treating the IRGC like alQaeda, Islamic State or other militants that it can target at will.

Reuters in a Tuesday news report titled In unprecedented move, US names Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group quoted US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that the designation did not mean the US military would start treating the IRGC like al Qaeda, Islamic State or other militants that it can target at will.

This is not about going to war with Iran or killing a bunch of Iranians. Absolutely not, said one, adding the US military had not been given any new direction to go after Iranian forces.

Senior US military commanders share Trump's concerns about Iran and the IRGC but long opposed the designation due to concern over a potential backlash against US forces in the Middle East, they said.

Jason Blazakis, a former State Department official who oversaw the process for labelling foreign terrorist organizations, said he believed the IRGC designation was done for purely symbolic and domestic political reasons that could have deadly consequences for US troops.

He said it could prompt Qassem Soleimani, the powerful commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC's elite foreign force, to allow IRGCcontrolled Shia Muslim militias to retaliate against US forces in Iraq, the Reuters reported.

I imagine that tight leash he (Soleimani) has had on them (Shias militias) will be less tight. He could call for them to take actions against US assets in places like Baghdad's Green Zone, he continued, referring to the Iraqi capital's diplomatic and governmental enclave.

The only theoretical benefit the designation could provide is to make it slightly easier for the Justice Department to prosecute people for providing material support to the IRGC, he said. The Department already has the authority for similar prosecutions under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by alQaeda.

Previous administrations considered designating the entire IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization but decided the risk to US forces overseas was too great, former US officials said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States had made a vicious move in designating the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization, and Tehran vowed to take action against US forces in the region.

They wish to plot against our Sepah (the Guard corps) ... it is in the frontline of confronting enemies of our (1979 Islamic) revolution and has always defended the country ... America has failed to block our advances, Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying by the state media, Reuters reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also defended the corps as protectors of Iran, saying in a televised speech that the United States holds a grudge against the Guards who have sacrificed their lives to protect our people, our revolution.

The head of Revolutionary Guards dismissed Washington's designation of the force as a terrorist organization and said the Guards would increase their military capabilities.

This US move was quite laughable since the Revolutionary Guards are in people's hearts ... The Revolutionary Guards will increase its defensive and offensive capabilities in the coming year, commander Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster, the Reuters added.

The US President Donald Trump on Monday officially labeled IRGC, a part of Iran's Armed Forces, a terrorist organization.

The Iranian forces in coordination with governments in Iraq and Syria has played a military advisory role in fighting the terrorist group in both countries. Iraq in 2017 officially announced the defeat of Daesh, while Syria has managed to retake most of the fallen areas from the terrorists.

The latest antiIran move of Trump received fierce reactions from Iranian officials. The country's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani called for a retaliatory move by labeling the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organization and the US government as a terrorist sponsor.

Zarif also called the move as 'another misguided electioneve gift to Netanyahu.

The members of Iranian parliament at Tuesday's session, coincided with the Iranian national day of Guards, showed up in official uniforms of IRGC to announce their support and solidarity with the forces.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA

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