US issues sanctions targeting group in Iraq it says is behind recent attacks

By Daphne Psaledakis and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday issued sanctions targeting Iran-aligned militia group Kata’ib Hizballah in Iraq, accusing the group of being behind recent attacks against the United States and its partners in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. and coalition troops have been attacked at least 58 times in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17 as regional tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war. At least 59 U.S. military personnel have been wounded in the attacks, though all have returned to duty so far.

There is growing concern the Israel-Hamas conflict could spread through the Middle East, with U.S. troops at bases throughout the region becoming targets.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement on Friday said it imposed sanctions on six people affiliated with Kata’ib Hizballah, which was previously designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States.

Among those targeted are the group’s foreign affairs chief, a military commander the Treasury said has worked with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to train fighters, and a official in the Quds Force – the arm of the IRGC that controls its allied militia in the region – that Washington said facilitates travel and training of Kata’ib Hizballah fighters in Iran.

“Today’s action sends a message to Kata’ib Hizballah and all other Iran-backed groups that the United States will use all available measures to hold to account any opportunistic actors who seek to exploit the situation in Gaza for their own ends,” The Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

“We remain fully committed to security and stability in the Middle East and are steadfast in our efforts to disrupt these destabilizing activities.”

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


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