The U.S. imposed new sanctions against 20 individuals and entities tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) over the group’s support for the militia in Iraq.
According to the Hill, the State Department announced on Thursday that the sanctions are meant to punish efforts to “violate Iraqi sovereignty and exploit Iraq’s economy to funnel money to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF),” and said some of the individuals help provide support for Tehran’s transfer of “lethal aid to Iranian-backed terrorist groups.”
The sanctions are also meant to blunt what the State Department said is an exploitation of a U.S.-issued sanctions waiver allowing Iraq to import electricity from Iran to benefit the IRGC-QF.
“Today’s designations underscore that the United States will not tolerate profiteering by malign Iranian actors from transactions that take place under the sanctions waiver,” the State Department said, “and we will remain focused on sanctioning those who do so for the benefit of the IRGC-QF or other designated terrorist groups.”
The sanctions represent the latest salvo in the ongoing feud between Washington and Tehran.
Tensions skyrocketed earlier this year amid renewed clashes between U.S and Iran-backed forces in Iraq. The Trump administration responded to attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq by launching a drone strike killing Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s top general. Iran responded to the strike by shooting missiles at a base housing U.S. personnel, resulting in brain injuries for more than 100 U.S. service members.
The violence was renewed this month after two rocket attacks by an Iranian-supported militia group killed two U.S. service members and one British soldier, and wounded several others. The Pentagon responded with airstrikes on five sites that the group was using as weapons storage facilities.
“Let me be clear, the United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests or our allies,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“All options are on the table as we work with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice and maintain deterrence,” he added. “We will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region.