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Middle East

US sanctions Iran-backed Bahraini militia training in Iraq

By Rudaw 11/7/2018
Molotov cocktails thrown by al-Ashtar Brigade protesters burn in Daih village in Bahrain in 2014. File photo: AP
Molotov cocktails thrown by al-Ashtar Brigade protesters burn in Daih village in Bahrain in 2014. File photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States listed Bahrain-based, IRGC proxy al-Ashtar Brigade as a "terrorist" organization, claiming that the group received training at camps in Iraq and are funded by the Islamic Regime.

"Al-Ashtar is yet another in a long line of Iranian sponsored terrorists who kill on behalf of a corrupt regime. Today’s designation serves notice that the United States sees plainly what Iran is trying to do to Bahrain through its proxy, the terrorist group Al-Ashtar," Nathan Sales, the US State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, stated on Wednesday.

He added that the group in January 2018 adopted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) branding.

"Additionally, AAB members have received weapons and explosives from Iran, training at IRGC-funded camps in Iraq, and senior AAB members have taken refuge in Iran to evade prosecution by Bahraini authorities," said Sales.

The United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt designated the group as a terrorist organization in 2017. 

The United States and the United Kingdom have enjoyed close ties to the tiny, but strategic island nation with large navy bases in the Persian Gulf.

Bahraini state media said the Kingdom expressed its gratitude for the designation.

"Al-Ashtar Brigades has claimed responsibility for numerous vicious attacks against innocent civilians, and security personnel, causing significant damage to public and private property," the Bahrain News Agency reported.

Following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly has threatened to sanction Iran's "malign activities" across the Middle East. 

AAB is the first Iran-backed Shiite militia to be sanctioned by this US administration in Iraq. Through the ISIS conflict, powerful Iran-backed paramilitaries also received equipment from the Government of Iraq.

A group of US congressmen called for greater oversight for weapons provided to Iraq and a rethinking of State Department policy in November 2017 after photos emerged of a Hezbollah flag raised above an M1 Abrams tank. The US has halted repair contracts for the Abrams, following violations of end-user agreements. 


GG | 11/7/2018
Yes these Shia proxies used those American M1 Abrams against Kurds to take Kirkuk and the American administration didn't do a damn thing, in their usual delusion they thought the useless hack Abadi would be reelected, how's that working out for you? Abadi's rethoric bas become more and more anti American to try to impress the Iranians so they can through him a bone in the upcoming government they're installing.
Azad | 11/7/2018
Iran is by far the biggest cancer in the world today. Every single day Iran works to attack sunnis. Iran have completely destroyed Syria and Iraq and well on their way to destroy Lebanon and Yemen. Since 2003 they have destroyed what was supposed to be a democratic and new Iraq, with their dirty barbaric shia sectarianism and persecution of sunnis including kurds. Millions have been killed because of Iran. Millions have been torured in the most horrific ways by Iran and proxies. Tens of millions have become refugees because of Iran. Entire refugee crisis formed because of Iranian terror forcing people to flee to all parts of the world including Europe. Iran is the by far the biggest evil in the world today. Iran should be isolated like North Korea if not outrigt invaded to stop the Iranian war machine. Never before in the history of the middle east has any country caused so much suffering as Iran has.
shiakurd | 13/7/2018
@azad 30% of kurds are shia
pidgin | 17/7/2018
iran is already occupying 4 countries in middle east they only change their uniforms from their own to local military uniforms. far more before allies declared war on nazis.
Parvez | 7/8/2018
Islam is a religion of Peace and brotherhood.Please do not divide Islam between Shia and Sunni. They are two eyes of Islam. Iran is following the sole idea of Islam and thus helping neighbors to fight against terrorists. Why don't you criticize and curse those who are doing massacre in Myanmar and Pelistine. Unfortunately we are losing our humanity and indirectly supporting oppressors. Oh my brothers save humanity instead of spreading hate.

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