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An explosion hits an Iraqi military base containing pro-Iranian militias

An explosion hits an Iraqi military base containing pro-Iranian militias
  • By Sebastian Ascher
  • BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, The Chief of Staff of the Popular Mobilization Forces visits a man injured in the explosion in the hospital

A military base in Iraq housing a pro-Iranian militia was damaged in an explosion, killing one person and wounding eight, security officials said.

The Iraqi Army reported that there were no drones or fighter aircraft in the area before or during the explosion.

But the militia involved, the Popular Mobilization Forces, blamed the attack.

This comes amid escalating tensions between Israel and Iran.

The Popular Mobilization Forces are an umbrella organization that includes several pro-Iranian militias that form part of the proxy network that Tehran has been able to use to advance its interests throughout the Middle East for years.

These militias have attacked American personnel and interests in Iraq on a number of occasions in the past, with the aim of trying to force the remaining American forces to leave the country. The United States has regularly responded to the militias.

But the Pentagon moved quickly to deny any involvement in this incident.

This comes at a time when the long-standing confrontation between Israel and Iran has recently moved to a new, more dangerous phase, amid tensions that have escalated due to the war in Gaza.

In contrast to the shadow war in which they have been engaged for many years, both countries appear to have directly attacked each other's territories.

The attack was an apparent response to a large barrage of drones and missiles that Tehran fired at Israel six days ago.

This Iranian action came in response to a previous strike targeting senior Iranian military commanders in the Syrian capital, Damascus – which was widely believed to have been carried out by Israel.

While the conflict appears to remain somewhat under control for now, Iran's foreign minister has warned that Iran will provide an immediate and “maximum” response if Israel launches major attacks on its interests.

The army said that the explosion, which occurred at the Kalsu military base, about 50 kilometers south of Baghdad, occurred early Saturday morning.

The explosion killed a member of the Popular Mobilization Forces and injured eight others.

The Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement that its Chief of Staff, Abdulaziz Al-Muhammadawi, visited the base to review what investigators have found so far.

The Iraqi army also said it was investigating the cause of the explosion and fire at the base.

The statement stated, “The Air Defense Command report confirmed, through technical efforts and radar detection, that there were no drones or combat aircraft in the airspace of Babylon before and during the explosion.”

The US military's Central Command denied what it said were reports that the US carried out air strikes in Iraq in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.