Iran-backed Iraqi militants threaten US interests inside Iraq in case of Syria strike

Iraqi officials and militant groups say Iranian-backed Shiite militias are threatening to retaliate against American interests inside Iraq if the United States goes ahead with strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, a close ally of Tehran.

Iraqi officials say they're taking the threats seriously. Such attacks risk exacerbating the deteriorating security environment inside Iraq.

Cleric Wathiq al-Batat tells The Associated Press his Iranian-backed Mukhtar Army is preparing for a forceful reaction against the interests of the U.S. and other countries that take part in any Syria strike.

The United States Embassy in Baghdad had no immediate response to the threats.