Protestors marched through Tehran carrying signs reading “I’m a Guard too” and “Down with USA” and chanting “What’s America thinking? Iran is full of Guards”. Similar state-sponsored protests were held across the country. Iranian officials condemned Donald Trump’s decision to blacklist the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Tehran retaliated by naming the regional United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organisation.
General Kioumars Heydari, head of the regular Iranian army’s ground forces, said: “Americans should know that this is a self-inflicted blow, meaning that they are jeopardising the security of their own troops in CENTCOM and across the world.”
The 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guards also command the volunteer paramilitary Basij and control Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
The Guards’ overseas Quds forces have fought Iran’s proxy wars in the strife-toen region.
Washington has already blacklisted dozens of groups and people for affiliations with the IRGC but had not previously targeted the organisation as a whole.
Ayatollah Mohammadali Movahedi Kermani told worshippers at Friday prayers: “Today, it has been proven to the people of the world and of this region in particular that America is the mother of all terrorism.”
Tense relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse last May when Mr Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, reached before he took office, and reimposed sanctions.
Revolutionary Guards commanders have repeatedly warned US bases in the Middle East and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles.
Tehran has also threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the United States tries to strangle Iran’s economy by halting its oil exports.