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 PompeoFired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe 7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports 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 MnuchinOn The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Val Demings calls for a new DOJ Office of Police Standards; Trump, GOP to pull convention from NC Lobbying world 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 TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests 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.