US to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a foreign terror group

The United States is expected to designate Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization, three U.S. officials told Reuters, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country’s military a terrorist group.

The decision, which critics warn could open U.S. military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments abroad, is expected to be announced by the U.S. State Department, perhaps as early as Monday, the officials said. It has been rumored for years.

The Pentagon declined to comment and referred queries to the State Department. The State Department and White House also declined to comment.

In response, Iran said that it would consider classifying the US military as a terrorist organization.

Experts said it was unclear how much concrete difference the terrorist designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would make. It is already heavily sanctioned by the US as a terrorist supporter, and Iran is designated a state sponsor of terrorism.

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“Under the cover of the Syrian war, the IRGC is now trying to plant military roots in Syria and establish a new strategic base to threaten Syria’s neighbors such as Israel,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, told reporters Tuesday.

“In Iraq, I can announce today, based on declassified US military reports, that Iran is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 American service members. This accounts for 17 percent of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. This death toll is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies,” he added.

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According to experts, Israel will be empowered to step up its aerial attacks on Iranian weapons in Syria and extend them to western Iraq, where pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias have piled up under IRGC command.