Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named a new head for the elite Revolutionary Guard, an organization Washington is looking to list as a terrorist group, state media announced Saturday.

Khamenei appointed Mohammed Ali Jafari, described only as a senior figure in the hardline force, to replace General Yahya Rahim Safavi who has led the Guards for the last decade.

The estimated 200,000-strong Revolutionary Guards answers directly to Khamenei and is seen as a defender of the 1979 Islamic revolution that swept away a pro-U.S. regime and founded the current religious republic.

Washington has accused the Guards of supporting militias and insurgent groups attacking U.S. forces in Iraq — charges Iran denies.