The Trump administration on Thursday designated a vast network of front companies and entities tied to Iran's terrorism operations in Iraq, where U.S. personnel have been under near-constant attack by militia groups armed and funded by Tehran.
The new designations target "Iraq-based front companies, senior officials, and business associates that provide support to, or act for or on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), in addition to transferring lethal aid to Iranian-backed terrorist militias in Iraq, such as Kata'ib Hizballah (KH) and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH)," according to the Treasury Department.
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The companies and terror groups have organized a series of rocket attacks and bombing on U.S. positions in Iraq, including one earlier this month that killed two American troops and one British soldier. At least two rockets struck inside Baghdad's Green Zone early Thursday, with no casualties reported at the time of this writing.
The Trump administration has been engaged in a growing conflict with Iran in Iraq since its killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. The new terror designations are meant to disrupt Iran's financial networks and deal a blow to these militia groups' capabilities.
"Iran employs a web of front companies to fund terrorist groups across the region, siphoning resources away from the Iranian people and prioritizing terrorist proxies over the basic needs of its people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
These sanctions do not impact the import of food and medicine needed to help Iran combat the spreading coronavirus, which has ravaged the Islamic Republic.
The organizations targeted in these new terror designations have participated in the smuggling of arms and money through Iraq's Umm Qasr Port, according to the Treasury Department. Many of the entities also have illegally sold Iranian oil to the Syrian regime and shipped weapons to militants operating in Yemen.
The State Department issued a sanctions waiver ensuring these new sanctions do not impact Iraqi imports of Iranian electricity—a move that highlights the administration's efforts to balance its tough sanctions regime with the need for humanitarian exemptions.
"The United States will not tolerate profiteering by malign Iranian actors from transactions that take place under the sanctions waiver, and we will remain focused on sanctioning those who do so for the benefit of the IRGC-QF or other designated terrorist groups," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.