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US levels sanctions on Taliban, Iranian paramilitary force amid militant surge

AT Monitoring Desk-The Trump administration is leveling sanctions against the insurgent Taliban and Iranian paramilitary force, accusing the group of training and funding terrorism, in the wake of a surge in militancy and violence in Afghanistan.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Tuesday against eight individuals, including two linked to the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, two Pakistanis and four Afghans, plummeting Washington-Tehran relations to a new low.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated the individuals as global terrorists, allowing the U.S. government to freeze property or interest in property under American jurisdiction.

In a statement, it said the U.S. sanctions have targeted Taliban members involved in suicide attacks and other lethal activities in Afghanistan, as well as Iranians who provide material and financial support.

“Iran’s provision of military training, financing and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior.”

Mnuchin was visiting the Middle East this week to discuss ways to fight terrorist financing and upcoming Iran sanctions. The Taliban sanctions also were imposed by the seven members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a U.S.-Gulf initiative to stem finance to militant groups.

The U.S. government will continue to target those that provide financial support to the Taliban until there is a negotiated peace settlement, Treasury said.

The new Taliban-related designations follow a spate of violence in Afghanistan that preceded the country’s parliamentary elections last week.

On Thursday, U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley, was confirmed as one of two Americans wounded in an attack that killed the police chief of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. The attack, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for, was a devastating blow to Afghanistan’s government, decapitating the security command of one of the country’s most strategically important provinces and demonstrating the insurgents’ ability to strike even top leaders.

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