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Iran threatens US forces deployed near its borders

In this file picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listens to Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari during a graduation ceremony of a group of the guard's officers in Tehran, Iran.

OFFICE OF THE IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 19, 2017

The head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. that it better move its forces away from his country if Washington imposes new sanctions on his paramilitary group.

The threat came one day after the Trump administration announced new, non-nuclear sanctions on 18 individuals or groups while at the same time warning Tehran that it would face consequences for breaching "the spirit" of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

That was an apparent reference to Iran's continued pursuit of a ballistic missile program.

The Associated Press reported that Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told Iranian state TV Wednesday that the Guard's missile program is not negotiable.

He hinted that if the U.S. expands sanctions to the Guard, U.S. troops could be at risk.

"If the U.S. intends to pursue sanctions on the Guard, it should first disassemble its military bases within 1,000 kilometers, or 620 miles," Jafari said, apparently referring to the range of Iranian missiles.

The United States maintains substantial air, naval and ground forces within 1,000 kilometers of Iran's borders, including bases in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran's Foreign Ministry in a statement Tuesday condemned the latest U.S. sanctions, calling them "mean and pointless," and said it will retaliate with sanctions on more Americans.

Iran in April and May imposed reciprocal sanctions on dozens of American companies and individuals, alleging they support terrorism and repression against people in the region such as the Palestinians.