baghdad - Iraq's Kataeb Hezbollah (KH) militia, a powerful armed faction with close ties to Iran, brushed off U.S. sanctions on the group over attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria and said Saturday such strikes aimed to drain the enemy.'
The U.S. issued sanctions Friday against several KH members and against another Iran-backed Shiite militia and its secretary-general, accusing them of being involved in attacks against the United States and its partners in Iraq and Syria.
The United States has blamed Iran and militia groups it supports for the more than 60 attacks since mid-October as regional tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war, which began on October 7. At least 59 U.S. military personnel have been wounded in the attacks, though all have returned to duty so far.
A statement on Telegram by Abu Ali Al-Askari, a security official in the group, on Saturday dismissed the sanctions as 'ridiculous,' and said the measures would not affect the group's operations.
'Well-studied strikes by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq against enemies, causing losses in their ranks and destroying vehicles or confusing or distracting them, is going according to a strategy to drain the enemy,' the statement said.
Among those linked to Kataeb Hezbollah targeted Friday are a member of the group's lead decision-making body, its foreign affairs chief, and a military commander the Treasury said has worked with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to train fighters.
The U.S. State Department also designated militia group Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada and its secretary general, Abu Ala al-Walai, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
In a statement posted on Telegram late Friday, Walai described the sanctions as 'a medal of honor.'
The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bar Americans from dealing with them. Those who engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.
The United States has 900 troops in Syria, and 2,500 more in neighboring Iraq, on a mission it says aims to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State, which in 2014 seized large swaths of both countries but was later defeated.
Militia groups in Iraq have linked the recent attacks on U.S. bases to Washington's support for Israel in its war on Gaza and say the U.S. should cease backing Israel's assault if it wants the attacks to stop.