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U.S. State Department tags Iran as 'top terror sponsor'

The U.S. State Department – Alex Wong/Getty Images
The U.S. State Department released its 2017 annual report on terrorism on Wednesday identifying Iran as the “leading state sponsor of terrorism with a “near-global reach”.

The report accused Tehran of sending suspected operatives to the United States.

It also added that Iran and the proxy groups it finances were responsible for attacks or attempted attacks in the Middle East, Europe, South America and Africa.

“It brings to its terrorist activities the resources of a state,” Nathan Sales, the coordinator for counter-terrorism, said in a call with reporters. “Iran uses terrorism as a tool of its statecraft,” he added. “It has no reservations about using that tool on any continent.”

According to the global terrorism report, efforts led by the United State have managed to liberate about 95 percent of Iraqi and Syrian territory from ISIS control and identified the expansion of al-Qaeda affiliates in Northern Africa and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, the report notes Iran’s use of proxies “and other instruments such as Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force” remain a “truly global” threat.

“We’ve seen [Iranian] weapons caches planted around the world. We’ve seen operational activity not just in Lebanon by Hezbollah, but by Iran-backed terrorists in the heart of Europe,” said Sales.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May, the administration has taken an increasingly tough stance on Iran. In November, it will re-impose oil sanctions, which were suspended under the deal in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.