Iran sanctions
Iran sanctions iStock

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on three officials in Iran’s Kurdish region, where dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the past week as the Iranian government continues its violent crackdown, CNN reported.

The latest tranche of sanctions targets two key officials in the city of Sanandaj: Hassan Asgari, the governor of Sanandaj, and Alireza Moradi, the commander of the nation’s Law Enforcement there, as well as Mohammad Taghi Osanloo, “the IRGC Ground Forces commander that oversees Iran’s West Azerbaijan province which includes the city of Mahabad,” where Iranian forces – including the IRGC, according to the US Treasury – have been deployed to crack down on protests.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “greatly concerned that Iranian authorities are reportedly escalating violence against protesters, particularly in the city of Mahabad.”

According to a press release from the Treasury Department, “prior to entering his role as governor of Sanandaj, Asgari was the commander of IRGC forces in Sanandaj. Asgari’s transition from a military role to governor is an example of the systematic spread of military control over cities.”

“When a 16-year-old protester was reportedly killed by security forces in Sanandaj, Asgari and other officials stated she died of a drug overdose, potentially by suicide,” the release said.

“Providing false alternative causes of death for protesters killed by security forces is a common tactic utilized by Iranian officials to evade accountability for their human rights abuses,” it added.

The protests in Iran were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16, after she was arrested for an alleged breach of the country's strict dress rules for women based on Islamic sharia law.

At least 378 people, including 47 children, have been killed in the crackdown since Amini's death, according to the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR).

UN rights experts say thousands of peaceful protesters have also been arrested, including many women, children and journalists, and six people have so far been handed death sentences over the demonstrations.

The UN Human Rights Council is set to hold an urgent meeting on Thursday to consider launching an international investigation into the deadly crackdown on protests in Iran.

The special session on "the deteriorating human rights situation" was requested by Germany and Iceland.