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Iran designates all US troops in the Middle East as terrorists

Bill was passed by parliament in retaliation for US decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group
It is not clear what the impact of the new law might be on US forces or their operations in the region (AFP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has signed a bill into law on Tuesday declaring all US forces in the Middle East terrorists and calling the United States' government a sponsor of terrorism.

The bill was passed by parliament last week in retaliation for US President Donald Trump's decision earlier this month to designate Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organisation.

It was not clear what the impact of the new law might be on US forces or their operations.

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Rouhani instructed the ministry of intelligence, ministry of foreign affairs, the armed forces, and Iran's supreme national security council to implement the law, state media reported.

The law specifically labels as a terrorist organisation the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Reuters news agency reported.

The US had already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but until Trump's decision not the organisation as a whole.

Proxy wars

Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, IRGC also commands the Basij, a religious volunteer paramilitary force, and control Iran's ballistic missile programmes. 

The Guards' overseas al-Quds Force has fought Iran's proxy wars in the region.

The long-tense relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse last May when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, reached before he took office, and reimposed sanctions.

IRGC commanders have repeatedly said that US bases in the Middle East and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles.

Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran will continue to export oil despite US sanctions aimed at reducing the country's crude shipments to zero.