Israel bombed Iraq weapons depot

Clay Curtis
August 25, 2019

The head of Iraq's paramilitary forces supported by Iran Thursday walked back a statement by his deputy the day before in which he blamed Israeli drones and held the us responsible for attacks on bases run by the militias.

The remarks come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the Zionist entity's involvement in the latest attacks on ammunition depots in Iraq belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) composed of volunteer forces who fought alongside the Iraqi army against ISIL Takfiri group (Daesh).

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is warning of a "strong response" if it is proven that Israel was behind recent airstrikes in Iraq.

Iraqi paramilitary forces backed by Iran accused Israeli drones of carrying out a series of attacks on bases run by the militias, saying Wednesday that they hold the United States ultimately responsible.

As tensions between Washington and Tehran increase, Iraq finds itself caught between neighboring Iran, whose regional influence has grown in recent years, and the United States.

The report said that an Iraqi military official confirmed a base was hit, killing three people - including one Iranian. USA officials now confirm Israel was responsible for at least one of them.

American officials told the AP the US has no evidence or credible intelligence that Israel was behind the two most recent blasts - on Tuesday or on August 12. The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter with the media.

The base reportedly housed advisers for the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group.

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The PMF warned it would consider any foreign aircraft flying over its bases without Iraqi government authorization to be "hostile aircraft that will be dealt with accordingly".

On Tuesday, another blast hit an ammo depot located to the north of Baghdad.

The confirmation follows the weeks-long speculation that Israel was behind the attack.

Asked whether that means Israel is operating in Iraq, he said: "We act in many arenas against a country that desires to annihilate us. Of course I gave the security forces a free hand and instructed them to do anything necessary to thwart Iran's plans", Netanyahu responded, as reported by Reuters news agency.

On Wednesday, the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Israel was behind all three recent strikes in Iraq after reaching an understanding with the USA and Russian Federation.

It would be the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein.

Israel's military intelligence threatened in February to expand its operations to Iraq, claiming "Iran may use Iraq as a launching pad to target Israel" after its positions in Syria were destroyed. Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on many occasions, but it is not known to have done so in Iraq.

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