WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on three Iraqi militia leaders linked to Iran suspected of involvement in a security crackdown on protesters during protests in Iraq.
"The Iraqi people want to restore their country," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. "They are demanding honest reforms, accountability, and credible leaders who prioritize Iraq's interest."
The United States has imposed sanctions on three Iraqis - Qais al-Khazali, Laith al-Khazali and Hussein Aziz al-Lami - all faction leaders within the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces, which are close to Iran.
The sanctions also included a fourth person, Khamis Farhan al-Issawi, a wealthy Iraqi businessman, involved in corruption and paying bribes to Iraqi government officials.
The US Treasury Department said the sanctions were due to human rights violations or corruption, following bloody protests.
Under US law, the four sanctions prevent Iraqis from traveling to the United States, where any assets they hold are frozen.
"Iran's attempts to suppress the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people to reform their government by killing peaceful demonstrators is appalling," said Minister Stephen Mnuchin. And that the United States stands with the Iraqi people in their efforts to eliminate corruption, and to hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights violations in Iraq ».
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East David Schenker warned that Washington might impose further sanctions, including against government officials.