US slaps sanctions on Iranian interior minister for human rights abuses

US slaps sanctions on Iranian interior minister for human rights abuses
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The U.S. slapped sanctions on Iran’s interior minister Wednesday over accusations he was involved in a string of human rights abuses.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was included in a list of 12 individuals and entities being targeted by the State Department in “a message of support to the Iranian people that we will continue to support their demands for transparent and accountable governance,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHouse, Senate panels to question ousted State Dept. inspector general on Wednesday: report National security adviser says foreign powers trying to exploit US race relations Britain and Europe need to step up their support for Hong Kong MORE said in a statement.

Pompeo said the administration has reason to believe that Rahmani Fazli authorized the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) of Iran to use lethal force against anti-government demonstrators in November, leading to the killing of several protesters, including at least 23 minors, according to the State Department. 

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“His - and the regime’s - goal was to quash these peaceful protests and suppress the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression at any cost,” said Pompeo.

Included in the list of those being sanctioned are seven senior officials of the LEF, including commander Hossein Ashtari Fard, for their roles in suppressing the protests.

The sanctions announced Wednesday freeze any U.S.-held assets of those targeted and broadly prohibit Americans from dealing with them.

“The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse,” said Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues On The Money: Senate Dems pump brakes on new stimulus checks | Trump officials sued over tax refunds | Fed to soon open small-business lending program Schumer slams Trump's Rose Garden briefing on China as 'pathetic' MORE. “The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people.”

The Trump administration also barred Ali Fallahian, the head of Iran’s intelligence service from 1989 to 1997, from traveling to the United States for his alleged involvement in assassinations around the globe.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have skyrocketed since 2018 when President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal struck during the Obama administration and reimposed stringent sanctions. The U.S. and Iran were brought near the brink of war earlier this year when the U.S. killed a top Iranian general and Iranian-backed militias responded with rocket attacks on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops.