08/22/2019, 09.28
IRAK - IRAN - ISRAEL
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Pro-Iranian militia bases hit by explosions with suspicion falling on Israel

The latest in a long series of incidents hit a weapon depot north of Baghdad belonging to the pro-Iranian Hashd ash-Shaʿabi militia. Iraq’s prime minister has banned unauthorised flights and ordered all bases out of cities. Some suspect Israel's anti-Iranian policy.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – A powerful blast hit a weapons depot belonging to Iranian-backed al-Hashd ash-Shaʿabi[*], a major militia fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.

The incident, which occurred on Tuesday, not far from the US air base in Balad, north of Baghdad, is the latest in a series of mysterious explosions involving the pro-Iranian Shia group across the country.

The Shia militia was quick to blame the United States for the blast, which has caused serious damage. So far, there have been no reports of dead and wounded.

Last week another powerful explosion at a munitions depot south-west of the Iraqi capital left one civilian dead, and 13 wounded. Local homes were also damaged and residents terrified.

The Iraqi government initially blamed poor maintenance and human error, but the exact cause remains unknown. Satellite images suggest that the damages area compatible with an external attack and confidential documents point to the use of drones.

Last month, two Iranians died at a base in Amirli, in Iraq's northern Salah ad Din Governorate (province) as a result of a blast that also sparked a huge fire.

That attack was blamed on an unmanned drone that dropped explosives. Some Shia groups blamed IS. Others have pointed the finger elsewhere, namely the Jewish State.

In the past, Israel has conducted operations against pro-Iranian targets in neighbouring Syria and Lebanon, and might be broadening its regional military campaign.

In light of the situation, the Chaldean patriarch, Card Louis Raphael Sako, expressed fears about Iraq's involvement in the escalation of tensions between the United States (Israel's ally) and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Reacting to the series of attacks, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi last week banned unauthorised flights across the country and ordered all munition depots and military camps to be moved outside cities.

The aim of the transfers is to prevent further loss of civilian life. The prime minister also ordered an inquiry, which, so far, has yielded no results.


[*] People's Mobilisation Forces.

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