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Explosion hits Iraqi military base housing pro-Iranian militia

In World
April 20, 2024

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

Iraq’s military reported no drones or fighter jets in the area before or during the blast, and the US said it was not involved.

Meanwhile the militia, the Popular Mobilisation Forces, blamed an attack.

It comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran.

The long-running confrontation between the rival countries has moved into a new phase, with a presumed Israeli attack carried out near the Iranian city of Isfahan early on Friday morning.

The attack was an apparent response to a major drone and missile attack that Tehran launched on Israel six days earlier.

The Iranian action was in retaliation for an earlier strike on senior Iranian military commanders in the Syrian capital Damascus – widely believed to have been carried out by Israel.

While the conflict still seems contained to some extent for now, the Iranian foreign minister has warned that Iran will deliver a “maximum” response if Israel launches significant attacks on its interests.

The explosion at Kalso military base, about 50 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad, happened early on Saturday morning, the military said.

It was being used by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a paramilitary dominated by Iran-backed Shia Muslim militias.

A member of the PMF was killed in the blast and eight others were wounded.

In a statement, the PMF said its chief of staff Abdul Aziz al-Mohammedawi had visited the base to review what investigators had found so far.

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

“The air defence command report confirmed, through technical efforts and radar detection, that there was no drone or fighter jet in the air space of Babil before and during the explosion,” a statement read.

The US military’s Central Command denied what it said were reports the US had carried out airstrikes in Iraq in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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