Fri, 28 Feb 2020

The United States has imposed sanctions on a senior military Iranian official over a crackdown on anti-government protesters, the State Department announced on January 17.

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour was banned from entering the United States for his role in crushing protests in November in the southwestern city of Mahshahr.

"General Shahvarpour was in command of units responsible for the violent crackdown and lethal repression around Mahshahr,' U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said, adding that Shahvarpour's designation was the result of photographic and video tips submitted to the department by Iranians.

'He oversaw the massacre of 148 helpless Iranians in the Mahshahr region,' Hook told a news conference.

The department has received more than 88,000 such tips since it appealed for Iranians to report evidence of repression and gross human rights abuses, Hook said.

Tehran has denied accusations by the United States and human rights watchdogs of widespread repression but has acknowledged confronting separatists in Mahshahr that it said were armed.

Mahshahr, home to many from Iran's Arab minority, was a hotbed of protests that broke out after an abrupt hike in fuel prices.

Despite a fiery sermon on January 17 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hook said that Iran did not appear to be escalating the military conflict following the killing earlier this month of Major General Qasem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran's elite Quds Forces in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad.

'They appear to be standing down for now,' Hook said. 'But we have a combination of maximum economic pressure and restoring deterrence by the credible threat of military force if attacked.'

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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