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U.S. Hits Iranian Officials, Entities With Sanctions Over 'Serious' Rights Abuses

The United States has slapped sanctions on about a dozen Iranian officials and entities accused of committing "serious" human rights abuses.

The sanctions announced on December 7 target government officials and organizations that Washington said have been involved in the repression of protesters and political activists, as well as prisons where activists have been held in brutal conditions.

Several Syrian officials were also placed on the U.S. Treasury Department's blacklist for their roles in political repression and chemical gas attacks, along with Uganda's military intelligence chief.

The announcement came ahead of the Washington-hosted virtual Summit for Democracy from December 9-10, billed by the State Department as a push to promote more free and open societies across the world.

“Consistent with the goals of this week’s Summit for Democracy, the United States is committed to using its full range of tools to counter serious human rights abuse and repressive acts across the world," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the U.S. sanctions “won't create leverage -- and [are] anything but seriousness & goodwill.”

"Washington fails to understand that 'maximum failure' and a diplomatic breakthrough are mutually exclusive," Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter.

The Iranian sanctions single out officials and entities involved in brutal crackdowns on protests in 2009 and 2019, including special units of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and their commander, Hassan Karami.

Those blacklisted also included Gholamreza Soleimani, commander of the paramilitary Basij force, which the Treasury Department described as “one of Iran’s most important domestic security resources.”

The governor of Qods City, Leila Vaseghi, was also targeted “for issuing an order to the police and other armed forces during the November 2019 protests to shoot unarmed protestors, causing dozens of deaths or injuries.”

With reporting by Reuters

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