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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

US Sanctions Iran-Backed Militia Members in Iraq Conducting Strikes Against American Forces

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on six people affiliated with the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataeb Hezbollah, which is accused of being behind a spate of recent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

Included in the sanctions are the militia’s foreign affairs chief, a member of its governing council, its military commander and a media spokesperson. The sanctions block access to U.S. property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

A spate of drone attacks hit U.S. bases in Iraq as recently as Friday, as regional tensions have flared up following the bloody war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Two U.S. defense officials confirmed three additional attacks on U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Syria on Friday, bringing the total number of attacks on U.S. and coalition military facilities in Iraq and Syria to at least 60.

The three bases attacked as of Friday by one-way drones were Al Harir air base in Irbil, with no casualties reported but an infrastructure damage assessment ongoing; Al Asad air base in Iraq with no injuries or infrastructure damage; and Tall Baydar, Syria, with minor injuries to one service member who was able to return to duty, one of the defense officials said.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have threatened to attack U.S. facilities there because of American support for Israel.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Kataeb Hezbollah is supported by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. The State Department has previously designated it as a terrorist organization.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the U.S. is “fully committed to security and stability in the Middle East and are steadfast in our efforts to disrupt these destabilizing activities.”

At least 11,470 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since the war in Gaza began, according to Hamas-controlled health authorities, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 2,700 people are reported missing.

About 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the initial attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.

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