Iraqi Milita Threatens US Interests Over Syria

Melissa Stusinski - Author

Aug. 30 2013, Updated 10:06 p.m. ET

An Iraqi Shi’ite militia group threatened to attack US interests in Iraq if the United States follows through with an attack on Syria. The group, al-Nujaba’a, made its announcement on Friday.

US President Barack Obama also stated on Friday that the US is still formulating a plan for a response to chemical weapons use in Syria.

Al-Nujaba’a is an umbrella group, according to Reuters. It includes Iraqi Shi’ite militants who crossed into Syria to help fight with the country’s army.

Along with fighters of the Asaib al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah militias, the group also includes the Mehdi army militia of anti-US Shi’ite cleric Myqtada al-Sadr. The Mehdi army was mostly disbanded after it was defeated by Iraqi and US forces in 2008, though some of it still remains.

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The situation in Syria is delicate and could have an impact on the region. Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership in particular has been exposed, notes MSN News. Baghdad is close to Iran, an ally of President al-Assad. However, it insists it will take no sides in the widening conflict, which has highlighted the regional Shi’ite-Sunni divide.

Shi’ite militants also threatened last year to strike US interests in Iraq after a film about the Prophet Mohammad triggered protests in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen.

The United States has sought help in its reported plan to attack Syria with cruise missiles. The country has acknowledged that the limited attack likely won’t have an impact on the more than two-year-long civil war. However, the aim is not so much to impact the war as it would be to warn Assad against using chemical weapons again.

So far, Britain has refused to participate and France has voted to help the US in its plan. It is unclear when or if the attacks will happen. If they do, the US and Israel are preparing for possible retaliation by Syria and its supporters.

[Image via ShutterStock]


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