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US Designates Iran-Linked Ashtar Brigades as Terrorist

US Designates Iran-Linked Ashtar Brigades as Terrorist

Tuesday, 10 July, 2018 - 19:00
The US State Department in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States designated as terrorist the Iran-backed al-Ashtar Brigades in Bahrain, said the State Department on Tuesday.

“From Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, and the Gulf, Iran is using terrorist proxies to extend its malevolent influence and upend international peace and stability. Al-Ashtar is yet another in a long line of Iranian sponsored terrorists who kill on behalf of a corrupt regime,” Nathan Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, said in a statement detailing the designation.

“Today’s designation serves notice that the United States sees plainly what Iran is trying to do to Bahrain through its proxy, the terrorist group al-Ashtar.”

The group has been behind several attacks in Bahrain, including two that killed police.

The designation, which prohibits Americans or US companies from doing business with the group, is the latest Trump administration effort to increase pressure on Tehran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear accord.

“In January 2018, al-Ashtar Brigades formally adopted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) branding and reaffirmed its loyalty to Tehran to reflect its role in an Iranian network of state and non-state actors that operates against the United States and its allies in the region,” continued Sales.

“Additionally, its members have received weapons and explosives from Iran, training at IRGC-funded camps in Iraq, and senior Ashtar members have taken refuge in Iran to evade prosecution by Bahraini authorities,” he stressed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Tuesday that Washington is on a mission to convince Iran its behavior "is unacceptable and has a real high cost for them."

The United States is preparing to re-introduce sanctions on Iran later this year including secondary sanctions aimed at severely restricting the country's ability to export oil. In turn, Iran has threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.

The Trump administration has targeted the al-Ashtar Brigades with sanctions before. In March 2017, the State Department blacklisted two individuals affiliated with the group, Ahmad Hasan Yusuf and Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi.

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