Iraqi Shiite cleric threatens US interests over provision in bipartisan Congress spending bill

An influential Shiite cleric has threatened to attack U.S. interests in Iraq and abroad over a congressional provision to send arms directly to Sunni and Kurdish fighters.

The measure in the House Republican's defense authorization would distribute a quarter of the $715 million authorized to train and equip the Iraqi army outside the government's control. It's unclear if the provision would survive the months-long debate process.

In a statement on Muqtada al-Sadr's website Wednesday, the cleric said if the bill was approved he would reactivate his forces and target "U.S. interests in Iraq and even abroad."

The Iraqi government issued a statement soon afterwards assuring that any weapons would only come through it and rejected the draft law.

Al-Sadr's Mahdi militia often battled with U.S. forces between 2003 and 2011.