National flags in Bandar Abbas, Iran
National flags in Bandar Abbas, IraniStock

Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill labeling US forces in the Middle East as terrorists, AFP reports.

Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorizing the government to act firmly in response to "terrorist actions" by US forces.

It demands authorities use "legal, political and diplomatic" measures to neutralize the American move, without elaborating.

The move follows the US decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. The US terrorism designation formally took effect on Monday.

The US move aims at "thwarting Iran's influence," and shows that America's longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective, Hatami told lawmakers, according to AFP.

During the debate, some hard-liner lawmakers had demanded listing the entire US army and security forces as terrorist.

A TV report in Iran said 204 lawmakers approved the bill, out of 207 present at the session in the 290-seat chamber. Two lawmakers voted against the bill and one abstained.

However, it remains unclear how the bill's passage in parliament would affect the Gourd's activities in the Persian Gulf, where the US Navy has in the past accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships.

The US move to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization came amid the ongoing tensions between Washington and Iran following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last May from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The US has since imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in early November. Those sanctions aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.