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Instagram Blocks Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commanders' Accounts

Iranians burn a U.S. flag as they take part in an anti-U.S. rally after Friday Prayers to show their support for the IRGC in Tehran on April 12.

Instagram has blocked the accounts of several commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), with the photo-sharing website saying it was complying with U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump on April 8 announced the designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, calling it the Iranian government's "primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign."

Instagram blocked the accounts of Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, and Major General Qassem Soleimani among others, Tabnak, a news site close to Iranian conservatives, said on April 17.

The English-language profiles of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's supporters were also blocked.

An Instagram spokesperson said April 17 the website was operating "under the constraints of U.S. sanctions laws."

"We work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations, including those relating to the recent designation of the IRGC," the spokesperson added.

Facebook, Twitter, and the Telegram messenger service are officially banned in Iran, making Instagram the only major social-media service accessible in the country without the use of a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass censorship.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa