The Biden administration slapped an Iran-backed militia behind attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria as a foreign terrorist organization Friday.
Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) has coordinated with other Iran-aligned terrorist groups in the Middle East to launch dozens of drone and rocket attacks on bases hosting American military personnel in the past month. The State Department formally designated KSS as a foreign terrorist organization, and its leader Hashim Finyan Rahim al-Saraji as a global terrorist — moves meant to highlight their destructive activity and cut them off from U.S. financial networks, according to a statement.
“KSS terrorist activity has threatened the lives of both U.S. and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS personnel in Iraq and Syria,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in the statement.
“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The United States remains committed to using all available tools to counter Iran’s support for terrorism and degrade and disrupt the ability of Iran-backed groups to conduct terrorist attacks,” the statement read.
KSS is one of the two largest Iranian proxy groups in Syria, according to the Foundation For Defense of Democracies’ Bill Roggio and Joe Truzman.
Simultaneously, the Treasury Department six individuals affiliated with the Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) group, which has also claimed responsibility for attacks on U.S. troops, according to a press release.
Iran’s paramilitary group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its elite Quds force have supported KSS, KH and other regional militias “with training funding, and sophisticated weapons — including increasingly accurate and lethal unmanned aerial systems,” the State Department said.
“Today’s action sends a message to Kata’ib Hizballah and all other Iran-backed groups that the United States will use all available measures to hold to account any opportunistic actors who seek to exploit the situation in Gaza for their own ends,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in the statement. “We remain fully committed to security and stability in the Middle East and are steadfast in our efforts to disrupt these destabilizing activities”
Iran-backed militias attempted several attacks against U.S. forces in Syria on Friday, bringing the total to more than 60 since the major escalation in drone and rocket barrages on outposts began on Oct. 17, Voice of America reported, citing a defense official.
The U.S. has conducted three retaliatory strikes on facilities used by the IRGC and its proxy groups in Syria.
Micaela Burrow on November 17, 2023