WASHINGTON — The United States is promising support for protesters in Iran, condemning Iranian officials for a crackdown that has left 21 people dead and more than 1,000 others under arrest.

A White House official Thursday said the U.S. would look for "actionable information" and seek to impose new sanctions against those responsible for stifling protests that began just last week.

The State Department also said it would not stand by idly.

"We have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protesters, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran," it said in a statement. "To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten."

New U.S. sanctions

Though not tied directly the protests, the U.S. Thursday sanctioned five Iranian companies linked to Tehran's ballistic missile program.

"These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the Iranian regime prioritizes over the economic well-being of the Iranian people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"As the Iranian people suffer, their government and the IRGC fund foreign militants, terrorist groups and human rights abuses," Mnuchin added.

And at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has requested an emergency U.N. meeting Friday on the situation.

But Russia and other members of the U.N. Security Council are criticizing the U.S. call for a meeting, saying the protests are a domestic issue and do not involve threats to international peace and security.

The U.S. statements and sanctions are unlikely to sit well with Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who have blamed foreign governments for instigating the protests.

The protests, which seemed to erupt spontaneously last week, have spread to many of Iran’s smaller cities, towns and rural areas, with protesters focused on economic hardships and government corruption. Read more at VOA News