Pro-Iranian Iraqi militia Kataeb Hezbollah label US sanctions 'ridiculous'

Pro-Iranian Iraqi militia Kataeb Hezbollah label US sanctions 'ridiculous'
2 min read
19 November, 2023
Kataeb Hezbollah spokesman Abu Ali al-Askari said the Islamic resistance in Iraq were part of a "strategy of attrition", while dismissing US sanctions placed on the Iran-backed group as "ridiculous".
Abu Ali al-Askari said the US sanctions will "not dissuade our courageous fighters", who have attacked American army bases in Iraq in Syria amid the Israel-Gaza war [Getty/file photo]

Iraq's powerful pro-Iranian armed group Kataeb Hezbollah has denounced as "ridiculous" sanctions unveiled this week by the United States over recent attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria.

American forces deployed in those two countries have been attacked more than 55 times since mid-October, according to the Pentagon, as US ally Israel has been waging a brutal onslaught in Gaza for over a month.

In a statement released late Saturday on Telegram, Kataeb Hezbollah spokesman Abu Ali al-Askari said attacks by "the Islamic resistance in Iraq" were part of a "strategy of attrition", dismissing sanctions as ineffectual.

"The inclusion of certain brothers in the so-called 'American sanctions list' is ridiculous," Askari argued, saying "such actions will not dissuade our courageous fighters".

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The US Treasury said on Friday it had sanctioned six individuals affiliated with Kataeb Hezbollah as well as the leader of another pro-Iranian group in Iraq which Washington said was also involved in attacks against US troops.

In its statement, the Treasury said Kataeb Hezbollah was trained, funded and supported by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and "is behind a spate of recent attacks against the United States and partners in Iraq and Syria following the horrific attacks by Hamas against Israel".

Israel launched a relentless air, land and naval assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 13,000 Palestinians in retaliation for Hamas' attack. Tel Aviv has also placed a complete siege on Gaza, cutting off water, food and fuel supplies from the enclave's 2.3 million residents. Residential buildings, hospitals, schools and refugee camps have been targeted by Israeli strikes, exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Attacks on US forces in the region since the start of Israel war in Gaza have caused minor injuries to dozens of troops, according to the Pentagon.

Most were rocket or drone attacks claimed by a group called "the Islamic resistance in Iraq".

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"The calculated strikes of the Islamic resistance in Iraq are part of a strategy of attrition of the enemy, deciding the level of escalation of operations, trajectory and timing," said the Kataeb Hezbollah spokesman.

The group was designated a "terrorist organisation" by the US State Department in 2009.

The United States has about 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and another 900 in Syria, deployed as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.