ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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West toughens sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over protest crackdown

Britain hits paramilitary group with travel ban, asset freeze as US sanctions four senior officials and EU blacklists eight others

In this September 22, 2014, photo, members of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard march during an annual military parade at the mausoleum of ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
In this September 22, 2014, photo, members of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard march during an annual military parade at the mausoleum of ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

LONDON — The United States, UK and European Union toughened sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Monday, as part of new restrictions on Tehran over alleged human rights violations.

These add to measures already taken over Tehran’s hardline response to protests that rocked the Islamic Republic since the September death of Mahsa Amini — a 22-year-old who died in custody after being arrested for allegedly breaching the country’s dress code for women.

Western sanctions have targeted what officials called a brutal crackdown against protests and demonstrations.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced Monday a travel ban and assets freeze on four individuals and the IRGC “in its entirety,” while the US Treasury Department sanctioned four senior officials of Iran’s security forces.

Brussels added eight individuals including a hardline lawmaker, a regional IRGC commander and officials at its investment arm, to its sanctions list, as well as mobile operator Ariantel.

The telecoms firm is accused of having helped authorities track down protesters.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrives to attend a round table during the North Atlantic Council (NAC) Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 5, 2023. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Cleverly said the ban was made in coordination with the EU and the United States, which have ratcheted up curbs on Iran recently.

Freedom of expression

US sanctions targeted four senior officials of the Law Enforcement Forces of Iran and IRGC, “the primary Iranian security forces responsible for the regime’s brutal suppression of the protests that broke out in September 2022” after Amini’s arrest and death.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also took action against Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace leader, taking aim at the authority overseeing cyberspace policy and the blocking of popular websites.

“The Iranian people deserve freedom of expression without the threat of violent retaliation and censorship from those in power,” said Treasury Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson.

Washington’s latest sanctions involve blocking the US property of those targeted alongside their majority-owned entities, among other restrictions.

Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran, October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Middle East Images, File)

The UK has come under repeated pressure from members of parliament to extend sanctions on the IRGC and proscribe it as a terrorist organization.

More than 70 Iranian officials and entities have been made subject to UK asset freezes and travel bans since October last year.

The latest involve four commanders “under whose leadership IRGC forces have opened fire on unarmed protesters resulting in numerous deaths, including of children,” the foreign office said.

They had also “arbitrarily detained and tortured protesters,” it added.

“The Iranian regime are responsible for the brutal repression of the Iranian people and for exporting bloodshed around the world,” Cleverly said.

“That’s why we have more than 300 sanctions in place on Iran, including on the IRGC in its entirety.”

The 27-nation EU imposed seven rounds of sanctions on Iran since Amini’s death, targeting more than 150 individuals, companies and agencies.

In response to earlier restrictions, Iran imposed its own sanctions on the UK and the EU in a tit-for-tat move.

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