24 September 2020
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U.S. blacklists Iraqi leader accused in attacks on U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

Friday, 28 February 2020 09:01

The Trump administration on Wednesday blacklisted a militia leader in Iraq, saying his group was responsible for a rocket attack that killed an American contractor in December and turned its snipers on civilian protesters last year.

The State and Treasury departments said they had designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi, the secretary general of Kataib Hezbollah, as a “specially designated global terrorist.” Americans are prohibited from doing business with him.

Kataib Hezbollah, also known as the Hezbollah Brigades, is a Shiite militia whose members swear loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It gets training, weapons and logistical support from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The group has asserted responsibility for numerous attacks on U.S. forces and coalition allies in Iraq over more than a decade. In December, it launched a rocket attack on a military base near Kirkuk that killed a U.S. contractor. That led to protests in which the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was stormed, prompting a U.S. airstrike that killed a revered Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani. In October, Kataib Hezbollah snipers fired on Iraqi protesters, killing 100 and wounding 6,000, according to the State Department.

“It actively uses violence and terror against innocent civilians to advance the Iranian regime’s goal of turning Iraq into a vassal state,” said Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism.

Though the United States designated Kataib Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 2009, Sales told reporters that targeting Hamadawi adds to the pressure being exerted.

“Now is the right time to intensify the pressure, starve this group of its resources and deprive it of the tools it uses to attack our people,” he said.

Source: The Washington Post

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