Washington, The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a multibillion-dollar financial network that supports an Iranian paramilitary force that it said recruits and trains child soldiers for the country's Revolutionary Guards.
The announcement came two weeks before the Trump administration re-imposes some of the harshest U.S. sanctions against Iran, including on its oil sector.
The Treasury said in a statement the Bonyad Taavon Basij network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that works for Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Both Basij groups were targeted by the new sanctions.
This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij's efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC's direction, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
The Basij has been involved in violent crackdowns and serious human-rights abuses within Iran, the statement said, alleging it recruits and trains fighters for the IRGC-Quds Force, including Iranian children as young as 12, who then deploy to Syria.
The sanctions were imposed on Bank Mellat, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Company, and five other investment firms, the Treasury said. The sanctions also target Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, the biggest Middle Eastern tractor maker, and Esfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Company, the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa, it said.
Source: Saudi Press Agency