Instagram blocks accounts of Iran's top generals

It follows US designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terror entity

In this June 30, 2018 photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard attends a graduation ceremony of a group of the guard's officers in Tehran, Iran. Soleimani said Thursday his forces are ready if President Donald Trump follows through on his warning that Iran will "suffer consequences" if Tehran threatens the United States. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
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Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' General Qassem Soleimani’s Instagram is among several accounts blocked by the photo-sharing platform, according to reports.

“Sorry, this page isn’t available,” read a message on the account. “The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.”

The move follows the announcement made by the US on April 8 that it has designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a “foreign terrorist organisations”. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain added the organisation to their terror lists last October.

Washington's move aimed to highlight Tehran's efforts to destabilise the Middle East by supporting non-state armed groups. It claims that Iran spends nearly a billion dollars a year to support terrorism, a State Department Official told The National last week.

Iran is responsible for 603 US personnel causalities in Iraq, the official said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Soleimani will be viewed the same as extremists such as ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

“He’s a terrorist. Qassem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands, as do the forces he leads,” Mr Pompeo told US broadcaster Fox.

"America is determined each time we find an organisation, institution or an individual that has taken the lives of individuals, it is our responsibility to reduce that risk," he said.

US President Donald Trump's administration last year described the Guards as "a state sponsor of terrorism" that used and promoted terror as an Iranian tool.

Iran has been accused by the US and other Arab states of interfering in its internal affairs and of trying to destabilise the region.

But the leadership in Tehran responded by designating American forces in the Middle East as a "terrorist organisation."

The social media accounts of the Guards' commander-in-chief, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Iranian army chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, have also been blocked.

Instagram also appears to have at some point suspended the English language account of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But the account is now running again.

The reason for the suspension is unclear and Instagram was unable to respond to a request from The National.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington increased last year after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal to limit Tehran's nuclear programme.

Mr Trump declared the agreement, signed under former president Barack Obama's administration, as one of the "worst deals I have ever witnessed".