Saturday, May 18, 2024

One killed, several injured in blast at Iran-aligned group’s base in Iraq

At least one person was killed and 20 were injured after an explosion at a military base in Iraq used by the Tehran-aligned Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), according to security sources.

The PMF said “the attack” late on Friday targeted the Kalsu military base, located some 50km (31 miles) south of the capital Baghdad in the province of Babil (Babylon).

Videos and images from the scene showed a huge explosion, which also set fire to trees in the surrounding areas, spreading the blaze. Footage from inside the base on Saturday morning showed a large crater and damage to infrastructure and vehicles.

In a statement, the PMF claimed “American aggression bombed the Kalso [Kalsu] military base”, which is located near the town of Iskandariya.

The Iraqi military announced on Saturday that there were no drones or fighter jets detected in the airspace of the Babil area before or during the blast. One PMF member was killed and eight injured in the blast, an army statement said.

The United States military denied reports that it was behind air strikes in Iraq.

The Iraqi government said it was investigating the incident. Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani is currently in the US.

The bases also houses Iraqi federal police and Iraqi military forces.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, the umbrella group of Iraqi armed forces who are opposed to the US and Israel, added it launched a retaliatory strike in the early hours of Saturday. It released a video that showed a drone being launched at night and claimed it was aimed at a “vital target” in the Israeli port city of Eilat.

The group has launched dozens of attacks on US and Israeli interests across the region after the current conflict in Gaza started in October. But it largely halted its assaults since February after three US soldiers were killed in a drone strike on a base near Syria’s border with Jordan.

Palestinian armed group Hamas in a statement on Saturday “strongly condemned” what it called an attack on the base and stressed it “considers it a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”.

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