The US State Department has imposed a new round of sanctions on resistance groups in Iraq Syria and Lebanon, in what appears to be a sign of Washington’s anger over the successful role they have been playing in the fight against foreign-sponsored terror outfits in the two Arab countries.
In a notice issued on Monday, the Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation said the restrictive measures target Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah, which are both subdivisions of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi along with the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement -- what the US describes as Iran-backed groups .
The sanctions were imposed under the so-called Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA), which bans arms transfer to those targeted.
Two Syrian entities, Wael Issa Trading Establishment and Ayman Al Sabbagh Trading, as well as three Russian firms, Charter Green Light Moscow, Asia-Invest LLC and NPP Pulsar LLC, were also included in the US sanctions list.
According to the notice, the sanctions were applied on July 29 under the INKSNA, which authorizes Washington to sanction foreign individuals, private entities, and governments that it deems to be engaged in proliferation activities.
The ban forbids US government departments, agencies and personnel from signing contracts with or from providing licenses or government assistance to the targeted groups and organizations.
“These measures shall be implemented by the responsible departments and agencies of the US government and will remain in place for two years from the effective date, except to the extent that the Secretary of State may subsequently determine otherwise,” read the notice.
‘Resistance factions a stumbling block to US-Israeli projects’
Saad al-Saadi, a member of the Asa’ib politburo, said that the sanctions show that the US sees the resistance factions as a “stumbling block” to the Zionist-American projects in Iraq.
“This indicates that we have achieved the results that the Iraqi people want and thwarted these projects that were and still remain the cause of all the crises that the country is going through on the economic, political, and security levels,” he told Iraq’s Shafaq news agency.
“We, the sons of resistance and national movements representing the Iraqi people, consider these sanctions as a [source of] pride and dignity for the Iraqi people…These sanctions only increase our resolve and steadfastness in adhering to our principles and values and the project of resisting the occupation and the illegal foreign presence in Iraq,” he added.
American occupation forces are required to leave Iraq under a resolution passed by the Arab country’s parliament on January 5, 2020.
It was approved two days after the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Hashd al-Sha’abi, two influential figures in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
However, Washington has been dragging its feet on the troop pullout and targeting anti-terror groups from time to time.
Washington and Baghdad recently reached an agreement on the American military’s withdrawal, under which the US will keep its troops on Iraqi soil under the guise of providing advisory assistance to the Iraqi military.