The Trump administration on Friday imposed sanctions on a senior Iranian general for his role in a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.
The State Department said it imposed penalties on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Hassan Shahvarpour for directing a massacre of nearly 150 demonstrators in southwestern Iran in November.
"General Shahvarpour was in command of units responsible for the violent crackdown and lethal repression around Mahshahr," US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said. He said the designation was the result of photographic and video tips submitted to the department by Iranians.
Iran has denied US allegations of widespread repression but has acknowledged confronting separatists in Mahshahr that it said were armed.
The designation is based upon information sent via a “tip line” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo established for Iranians during the protests. Over 88,000 pieces of information have been received through the channel, according to Hook.
Friday’s designation of the Iranian general comes amid the Trump administration’s continued push on what it calls its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran, which has included President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw Washington from an international pact intended to curb Tehran’s nuclear program and subsequent reimposition of economic sanctions on the Iranian oil sector.
The effort has repeatedly brought tensions between the US and Iran to a fever pitch, most recently putting them on the brink of war following the killing of the former architect of Iran’s regional strategy.
Iran responded by launching salvos of ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases where US forces are stationed, but both sides have indicated they would not escalate further militarily.
Iran announced, following the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad, that it would no longer comply with any commitments under the 2015 deal signed with several world powers, which Trump has already left and has sought to scuttle.
Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the US and Europe against taking any “wrong” steps in response to Iran’s decision.
“If you take a wrong step, you will sustain loss, the right move is to come back to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” he said, referring to the accord.
“US troops are not safe in the Middle East and the insecurity may be inflicted upon European soldiers in the future,” he added.
Hook responded, saying “as long as the Iranian regime threatens the world it will become further isolated.”
“Until Iran behaves like a normal nation, its isolation will only deepen,” he added.
President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, arguing the agreement was too weak and that new sanctions would force Iran to accept more stringent terms.