WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, provides "lethal support" to the Sunni-dominated Taliban for use against U.S. and NATO forces, according to information in the new U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, announces the sanctions Thursday.
The Quds Force is the "Iranian regime's primary instrument for providing lethal support to the Taliban," and it "provides weapons and financial support to the Taliban to support anti-U.S. and anti-coalition activity in Afghanistan," the Treasury Department alleged Thursday in announcing economic sanctions against the Quds Force and other Iranian military and financial entities.
Iran is a predominantly Shiite nation and is known to support Shiite fighters in Iraq, where Shiite and Sunni Muslims have been at odds in recent years, and in Lebanon.
In the past, the U.S. military has said the Quds Force also supports the Taliban, the Sunni movement that once controlled Afghanistan and still harbors the al Qaeda terror movement. The Treasury Department statement, however, laid out specific details of that alleged support to justify designating the Quds Force as a supporter of terrorism. Watch an announcement of the sanctions against Iran »
"Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged frequent shipments of small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107 mm rockets, plastic explosives, and probably man-portable defense systems to the Taliban," the statement said.
The Treasury statement also says the Quds Force "has had a long history" of backing Hezbollah's "military, paramilitary, and terrorist activities, providing it with guidance, funding, weapons, intelligence, and logistical support."
The Lebanese Shiite group runs training camps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and "has reportedly trained" more than 3,000 of the group's fighters at Revolutionary Guard training facilities in Iran, the Treasury Department alleged.
The statement further alleges that the Quds Force provides roughly $100 million to $200 million in funding a year to Hezbollah and has helped the group rearm after the war in Lebanon with Israeli forces.
The Treasury Department says the Quds Force provides "material support" to two Palestinian groups -- Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
The Quds Force is one of five branches of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The others are Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy and Basij militia.
The Revolutionary Guard Corps "runs prisons, and has numerous economic interests involving defense production, construction, and the oil industry" and "has been outspoken about its willingness to proliferate ballistic missiles capable of carrying" weapons of mass destruction, the Treasury Department says. E-mail to a friend