US expected to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization

Tehran's landmark Milad Tower is seen through a row of national flags in the center of the Iranian capital on January 3, 2018.

Washington (CNN)The Trump administration is expected to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization as early as next week, according to a US official.

The designation decision, formally under the State Department's purview, is taking on heightened importance as part of the White House's increasingly aggressive strategy towards Iran.
Officials have been debating whether to make the designation for several months. CNN reported in July 2018 that the administration was considering doing so.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to comment and the State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
    The Wall Street Journal was first to report the expected designation.
    Defense officials have told CNN that US troops in Syria and Iraq often find themselves operating in close proximity to members of the IRGC.
    Last year, CNN reported that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats cautioned the administration that designating the IRGC could pose dangers to US forces, according to one source familiar with the matter.
      "Under the cover of the Syrian war, the IRGC is now trying to plant military roots in Syria and establish a new strategic base to threaten Syria's neighbors such as Israel," Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, told reporters Tuesday.
      "In Iraq, I can announce today, based on declassified US military reports, that Iran is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 American service members. This accounts for 17 percent of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. This death toll is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC's proxies," he added.