US sanctions more Iranian officials as crackdowns continue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States imposed sanctions on Wednesday against three more Iranian security officials in response to the Tehran government’s continued crackdown on protests after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while being detained by the morality police for violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

Hassan Asgari, Alireza Moradi and Mohammad Taghi Osanloo were the latest Iranian officials cited by the Treasury Department. The three allegedly helped spread military control over largely Kurdish areas, including Sanandaj and Mahabad.which has “faced a particularly severe security response” since the protests began in September, according to the department.

Activists said Iranian security forces used heavy gunfire against protesters in a western Kurdish city, killing at least five people during an anti-government protest at the funeral of 2 people who died the previous day.

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The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said the Iranian government has stepped up its aggressive actions against its citizens “as part of its ongoing crackdown on peaceful protests against a regime that denies human rights and fundamental freedoms to its people, especially women and girls.”

The protests began after Iran’s moral police arrested Amini on September 13 in Tehran, where he was visiting his hometown in the country’s western Kurdish region. The police arrested her for wearing her hijab too loosely. Iran requires women to wear headscarves in a way that completely covers their hair when in public.

He collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

Amini remains a powerful symbol of the protests that posed one of the most serious challenges in the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement protests drew millions to the streets.

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At least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest.

“The Iranian regime is targeting and shooting its own children, who have taken to the streets to demand a better future,” said Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “The abuses committed in Iran against the protesters, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop.”

Sanctions against Iran have accelerated in recent months as the Biden administration tries to bring down Tehran back to negotiations to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian state media reported Tuesday that the country has begun producing enriched uranium of 60% purity at the country’s underground Fordo nuclear plant, which is considered an important addition to the country’s nuclear program.

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Earlier this month, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, acknowledged that Iran had supplied Russia with drones.insisted the transfer came before Moscow’s war against Ukraine, during which drones attacked infrastructure and civilian targets in Ukraine.

The US has already imposed sanctions on members of Iran’s intelligence agency, leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, prison guards and others. The Treasury Department also increases access to American companies that want to provide Internet in the country.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Iran at https://apnews.com/hub/iran

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