The two leaders of the group were identified as brothers Qays and Laith al-Khazali. Designations of the group and the two leaders are being carried out under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and section 1(a)(ii)(A) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended by E.O. 13886, respectively, according to the release.
“AAH and its leaders are violent proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued within the announcement. “Acting on behalf of their masters in Tehran, they use violence and terror to further the Iranian regime’s efforts to undermine Iraqi sovereignty.”
— ELINT News (@ELINTNews) January 3, 2020
The designation will allow for the US to freeze all accounts and block off access to all properties tied to the group and its two leaders. The State Department further noted in its release that the move is in an effort to "deny AAH and its leadership the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks."
Designations against both Qays and Laith al-Khazali come nearly a month after the US Treasury Department sanctioned the pair for reportedly taking part in "opened fire on peaceful protests, killing dozens of innocent civilians."
The latest developments come just a day after the US initiated an airstrike that saw four missiles fired near Iraq's Baghdad International Airport, and which targeted Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force and prominent members of the Popular Mobilization Forces. The strike, claimed by the US hours later, was carried out in an effort to deter "Iranian attack plans," according to a statement issued by the US Defense Department.
The strike has been condemned by both Iran and Iraq.