'Designate US forces as terror groups,' says Iran minister
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Monday urged President Hassan Rouhani to place US forces in Western Asia on Tehran's list of "terrorist" groups, the foreign ministry said.
Zarif wrote to Rouhani asking him "to put the American Forces in Western Asia known as CENTCOM on the Islamic Republic of Iran's list of terrorist groups", the ministry said.
His request came shortly after the US announced that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would be designated as a terrorist organisation.
Zarif also blasted the US move on Twitter, saying it was done to support Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of Tuesday's parliamentary election, where the premier is seeking re-election.
"A(nother) misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. A(nother) dangerous US misadventure in the region," he wrote.
Part of America's vast military presence around the globe, CENTCOM's area of command covers multiple war zones and hotspots including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Gulf.
The US decision came as part of already far-reaching attempts to undermine the Iranian government.
President Donald Trump said the "unprecedented" move "recognises the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft".
"The IRGC is the Iranian government's primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign," Trump said in a statement.
It is the first time the US has applied the designation to part of a foreign government, rather than guerrilla groups or other more informal entities.
The terrorist designation for the Revolutionary Guards is meant to strike at the heart of the Iranian government's power structure.
The elite force was formed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime, in contrast to more traditional military units that protect the country's borders.
At home, it has amassed strong political and economic influence.
Abroad, the Guards' prized Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, supports Iranian allies, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon's Hizballah.
The move follows Trump's decision to pull the United States out of a multilateral deal with Iran that was meant to lift crippling economic sanctions in return curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.
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