Baghdad (Reuters) —
Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah (KH), a powerful armed faction with close ties to Iran, is ignoring sanctions imposed by the United States (US) on the group over attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria. The militia group said on Saturday (18/11) that the attack was aimed at draining the enemy.
On Friday (17/11), the US implemented sanctions against a number of KH members and militias supported by other Iranian Shia groups and its secretary general. The US accused them of involvement in attacks against the United States and its partners in Syria.
The US has blamed Iran and the militia groups it supports for 60 attacks since mid-October as regional tensions escalate over the war between Israel and Hamas that began October 7. At least 59 US military personnel have been injured in the attacks. However, they have now returned to work.
According to a statement on the Telegram messaging app from Abu Ali As-Kari, the group’s security official on Saturday dismissed the sanctions as “ridiculous.” He also said the measures would not affect the group’s operations.
“The Islamic Resistance in Iraq’s well-studied attacks on the enemy, causing losses in their ranks and destroying vehicles or confusing or diverting their attention, is a strategy to exhaust the enemy,” the statement said.
Among those linked to Kataeb Hezbollah targeted by sanctions on Friday were members of the group’s main decision-making body, its foreign affairs chief, and a military commander who the Treasury Department said had worked with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to train the combatants.
The US State Department also designated the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia group and its secretary general, Abu Ala al-Walai, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
In a statement sent to Telegram on Friday (17/11) evening, Walai described the sanctions as a “medal of honor.”
These sanctions freeze US assets held by targeted parties and generally prohibit Americans from dealing with sanctioned parties. Parties who carry out certain transactions with those subject to sanctions are also at risk of being sanctioned.
Militia groups in Iraq have linked recent attacks on US bases to Washington’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza. They also say that the US must stop supporting Israeli attacks if they want them to stop. (ft)