WASHINGTON: The US Treasury announced new sanctions against Iran's Bank Mellat and Mehr Eqtesad Bank on Tuesday.
The Treasury also announced sanctions against Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, Esfehan's Mobarakeh Steel Company, as well as other firms.
According to the Tresury, the group make up a multibillion-dollar financial network that supports an Iranian paramilitary force that recruits and trains child soldiers for the country's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Bonyad Taavon Basij network supports a volunteer paramilitary group, the Basij Resistance Force, which works with the IRGC, the Treasury said in a statement.
Both Basij groups were targeted by the new sanctions.
"This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij's efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC's direction," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The Basij is involved in violent crackdowns and serious human rights abuses within Iran, the statement said. It recruits and trains fighters for the IRGC-Quds Force, including Iranian children as young as 12, who then deploy to Syria to support the government of President Bashar al-Assad regime, it said.
The designations highlight that "this Iranian regime is not a normal government," a senior administration official said. "Normal governments don't have revolutionary arms that support revolution and wreak havoc with their neighbors. They don't recruit indoctrinate and use child soldiers."
The sanctions were imposed on Bank Mellat, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Co and five other investment firms, the Treasury said.
The sanctions also target Iran Tractor Manufacturing Co, the Middle East's largest tractor manufacturer, and Esfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Co, the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region, Treasury said.