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US puts Russian military company on same list as Daesh

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The United States has accused a Russian private military company of "threatening religious freedom" in the Central African Republic, adding its name to a list that also features the Daesh and al-Qaeda Takfiri terrorist outfits.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the designation on Friday, declaring the Wagner Group an "entity of particular concern."

The list includes such Takfiri terrorist entities as Daesh's splinter groups in Africa, Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Syria.

Washington says such designations are allowable under its Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The law targets countries and entities that are deemed to violate religious freedom on a systematic and ongoing basis.

"Our announcement of these designations is in keeping with our values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe," Blinken said.

Reporting the development, Russia Today said there were rumors that the United States was seeking to blacklist Wagner as a "terrorist organization."

Such undertaking would amount to a "lawfare" waged by Washington against Moscow over the latter's February-present military operation in Ukraine, RT added.

Russia started the "special military operation" in its eastern neighbor in late February in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev.

Back in 2014, the two republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Kiev's Western allies, led by the United States, have been pumping Ukraine full of advanced weapons and slapping Russia with a slew of sanctions, steps that Moscow says would only prolong the hostilities.

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