The United States Treasury Department said on Tuesday it will impose sanctions on Iran’s Basij Paramilitary Force, an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The sanctions will cover at least 20 companies and financial institutions associated with the group. The department has decided to name the groups Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

“Among other malign activities, the IRGC’s Basij militia recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fuelled conflicts across the region,” a press release by the department said. “This Iran-based network is known as Bonyad Taavon Basij, which is translated as Basij Cooperative Foundation...employs shell companies and other measures to mask Basij ownership and control over a variety of multi billion-dollar business interests in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries, many of which have significant international dealings across the Middle East and with Europe.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the vast network of the Bonyad Taavon Basij provides financial infrastructure to its efforts to “recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat”. He said the world must understand that doing business with the network has “real world humanitarian consequences”.

Mnuchin said that apart from recruiting child soldiers as young as 12, Basij was also involved in the violent crackdowns and other “serious human rights abuses” following the disputed 2009 Iranian elections.

The treasury secretary said that as a result of the sanctions, all Basij assets will be frozen, and United States citizens can no longer do business with its conglomerate of banks, investment companies and engineering firms.

President Donald Trump in August reimposed economic sanctions against Tehran and said that anyone doing business with Iran would not be doing business with the US. The sanctions will come into effect on November 4.