Iraqi militia vows to attack US interests if Syria hit

Reuters Photo: Abdalghne Karoof

Residents inspect buildings damaged by what activists said were warplanes belonging to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Iskat, near the Syrian-Turkish border Friday, Aug. 30.

3 hr ago Reuters

An Iraqi Shiite militia group on Friday threatened to attack U.S. interests in the Mideast if America launches a military strike on Syria.

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi Shite militia group said on Friday it would attack U.S. interests in Iraq and the region if Washington carries out a military strike on Syria.

President Barack Obama said on Friday the United States was still in the planning process for a response to the chemical weapons use in Syria.

"All their interests and facilities in Iraq and the region will be targeted by our militants if the United States insists on attacking Syria," a spokesman for the Iraqi militia group al-Nujaba'a told Reuters by telephone, without giving details.

Al-Nujaba'a is an umbrella group which includes Iraqi Shiite militants who have crossed into neighboring Syria to fight alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Assad is from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The group includes fighters of the Asaib al-Haq and Kata'ib Hezbollah militias and the Mehdi army militia of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which was mostly disbanded after its defeat by Iraqi and U.S. forces in 2008.

Syria's war has been a delicate foreign policy problem for Iraq's Shiite leadership. Baghdad is close to Iran, President Assad's ally, but insists it takes no sides as the Syrian conflict widens a regional Shiite-Sunni divide.

Shiite militants threatened to strike U.S. interests in Iraq last September over a film about the Prophet Mohammad that triggered protests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.