Updated April 20th, 2024 at 22:00 IST

Iraq Investigating Blast at Base Held by Iran-Allied Militias, US Denies Involvement

The Popular Mobilisation Forces, a coalition of Iran-allied militias, described the blast as an 'attack' in a statement but did not assign blame to any party.

A screengrab of a video showing the base in Iraq that was allegedly 'attacked'. | Image:AP
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Baghdad: Iraqi authorities said Saturday that they were investigating an explosion that struck a base belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a coalition of Iran-allied militias, killing one person and injuring eight.

Militia officials had initially described the explosion at the Kalsu military base north of Babylon — a former US base that was handed over to the Iraqi military in 2011 — as an airstrike, blaming it on US forces. The US Central Command denied in a statement that it had carried out any airstrikes in Iraq.

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The PMF in a statement Saturday afternoon described the blast as an “attack” but did not blame any specific party.

Iraq’s Security Media Cell said the country’s air defense command had not detected any drones or fighter plane in the airspace of Babylon before or during the explosion. It said one PMF member died and eight people were injured, including an Iraqi army soldier.

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The PMF is a coalition of primarily Shiite, Iran-backed armed groups designated as an “independent military formation” within the Iraqi armed forces.

In recent months, some of the PMF member groups launched attacks on US forces based in Iraq and Syria, which they said was in retaliation for Washington’s support of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

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Those attacks halted at the end of January after three US soldiers were killed in a strike on a base in Jordan, near the Syrian border, prompting US retaliatory strikes in Iraq.

The explosion at the PMF base came a day after a suspected Israeli strike in Iran. An umbrella group of Iran-backed militias calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq said Saturday that it had launched a drone attack against the Israeli Red Sea town of Eilat in response to what it described as Israel’s “violation of Iraqi sovereignty in its treacherous targeting of the Popular Mobilisation Forces camps.”

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There were no reports in Israel of an attack on Eilat and no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

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Published April 20th, 2024 at 22:00 IST