Iranian-backed Shiite militias have issued warnings that they will retaliate against American interests in Iraq if the U.S. proceeds with strikes against Syria, the Associated Press reports, citing Iraqi security officials and militants themselves.
Iraqi officials say they are taking the warnings seriously. The threats, which come as President Barack Obama's administration and Congress debate possible military action over the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons, risk exacerbating an increasingly deteriorating security environment inside Iraq.
Cleric Wathiq al-Batat, who leads the Mukhtar Army, a shadowy Iranian-backed militia, said his forces are preparing for a strong reaction against the interests of the U.S. and other countries that take part in any Syria strike. He claimed that militants have selected hundreds of potential targets, which could include both official American sites and companies "associated with the Americans."
"There is a good level of coordination with Iran on this issue and I cannot reveal more. But I can say that there will be a strong response," he told The Associated Press. "Each armed group will have duties to carry out."
Al-Batat was a senior official in Iraq's Hezbollah Brigades, which is believed to be funded and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Read more at the Huffington Post.