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Canada declares Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group



 Members of the Iran Revolutionary Guards. [AFP]

Ottawa on Wednesday listed Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity while calling on Canadians in the Islamic country to leave.

"Our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code," Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told a news conference.

Flanked by Canada's foreign and justice ministers, he accused the Iranian regime of "support for terrorism" and "having consistently displayed disregard for human rights both inside and outside of Iran, as well as a willingness to destabilize the international rules-based order."

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that Ottawa broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2012, urged Canadians against travel to Iran.

"For those who are in Iran right now. It's time to come back home," she said.

The terrorism listing bars members of the Guards from entering Canada and Canadians from having any dealings with individual members or the group. Any assets the Guards or its members hold in Canada may also be seized.

Iranian expats and families of the victims of Flight PS752, which was downed by Iran shortly after takeoff from Tehran in January 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents, have long pressed Ottawa to designate the militia as a terrorist entity.

MPs last month unanimously voted to do so.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration had, until now, expressed a reluctance, explaining that a terror listing could be too broad and inadvertently impact Iranians in Canada opposed to the regime.

'A huge step forward'

Kourosh Doustshenas, speaking on behalf of the families of Flight PS752 victims, welcomed the Guards' terrorism listing, calling it "a huge step forward in the search for justice for everyone who has been a victim of this organization."

Canada's blacklist includes nearly 80 entities such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Islamic State group and the Proud Boys, a North American neo-fascist militant group.

Ottawa has previously listed the Quds Force, a branch of the Guards, as a terrorist entity, and in 2022 permanently denied entry to more than 10,000 Iranian officials, including members of the Guards.

The United States listed the Guards as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.

Earlier this month, the European Union also sanctioned the Guards for allegedly supplying drones to Russia and its allies in the Middle East.

The decision to add the Guards to Canada's terror list comes amid tensions between Ottawa and Tehran. Canada and other nations have sued Iran at the International Court of Justice over the downing of Flight PS752.

Tehran has claimed a missile strike on the aircraft was carried out by mistake.

Ahead of the press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described the Iran regime as "brutal, repressive, theocratic and misogynist."

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