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US Re-Designates Iran Separatist Sunni Militant Group As 'Terrorist'

File photo - Iran's IRGC forces in the mainly Sunni populated southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province.

The U.S. Department of State has re-designated an Iranian Sunni militant, separatist group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on July 2. The group has been waging attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political and military targets, in which civilians have also died.

The group, Jaysh al-Adl operates mainly in southeastern Iran, where there is a substantial concentration of Sunni Baluchis and a porous border with Pakistan.

Jaysh al-Adl was previously listed as an FTO with its former name of Jundallah (or Jondollah), but the State Department decided to amend the designation to reflect its new alias.

It is not clear why the United States made this decision at this particular time, amid high level of tensions with Iran, since Jundullah changed its name to Jaysh al-Adl in 2012.

In its official statement the Department says, “Jundallah, which was designated as an FTO and SDGT in 2010, began using the new name Jaysh al-Adl and associated aliases in 2012. Since its inception, the group has engaged in numerous attacks that have killed scores of Iranian civilians and government officials, including a February 2019 suicide bombing and the October 2018 kidnapping of Iranian security personnel.”

Iran has long regarded the Sunni separatist group as a terrorist organization linked with foreign powers. Occasionally, Iranian officials have hinted that Saudi Arabia might be behind Sunni unrest in the area.

The U.S. designated Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization in April, soliciting angry responses from Islamic Republic leaders.