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Intel: Why the US is sanctioning Iran’s Basij militia

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Members of Iran's Basij militia march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2010. Iranian leaders hoping to lift morale at a time of rising prices, food shortages and threats of attack from Israel, are drawing on memories of another era when people united against a common foe: Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The White House today announced new sanctions on Iran — specifically on the volunteer Basij militia, which operates under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The sanctions also target three Iranian banks accused of providing financial support to Basij-controlled companies.

The paramilitary force is tasked with exerting the IRGC’s will over Iranian society. But it also fights on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.

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