Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a “terrorist organization” and that peace and stability in the Middle East isn’t possible unless it's weakened.
The United States on Monday designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization, the first time that the U.S. has labeled an entity of another government as a terror organization, placing a group with vast economic resources that answers only to Iran's supreme leader in the same category as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
“The IRGC is a terrorist organization, we've now designated them. We're always doing everything we can to make sure we protect every American soldier everywhere,” Pompeo told Bret Baier on “Special Report.”
“But the fact is, the IRGC has already killed over 600 American soldiers, so you can't have peace, you can't have stability, you can't have security in the Middle East without weakening the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
The U.S. declaration may cause retaliation and could make it harder for troops and diplomats to work in the region -- but Pompeo believes the opposite.
“We're confident this increased pressure will save American lives and create more stability, more peace, more security throughout the Middle East,” Pompeo told Baier.
The secretary of state didn't mince words in his interview, calling Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC's elite Quds Force, “a terrorist” and saying he and the IRGC would be targeted like any other terrorist organization.
“Qassem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands, Bret, as does the force that he leads, and America is determined each time we find an organization, institution or an individual that has taken the lives of Americans, it is our responsibility. It's indeed President Trump's duty,” Pompeo said.
“And, we have made tremendous progress in this administration's first two years to reduce the risk that any American will be killed by Qassem Soleimani and his merry band of brothers ever again.”
Fox News' Bret Baier and The Associated Press contributed to this report.