Explosion apparently sets off munitions in the storehouse, sending projectiles into surrounding neighborhoods
By Judah Ari Gross
Source: The Times of Israel (TOI)
A massive explosion in a weapons depot on a pro-Iranian militia base rocked Baghdad on Monday evening, local media reported.
The blast appeared to have triggered some of the munitions stored on the base, sending projectiles into surrounding neighborhoods.
Sky News Arabia reported that incoming mortar shells set off sirens in the area around the US embassy in Baghdad, known as the Green Zone.
Local media reported that the weapons storehouse was controlled by the Sayyid of Martyrs Battalions, an Iraqi Shiite militia supported by Israel’s nemesis Iran.
— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) August 12, 2019
“An explosion occurred because of the piling up of munitions inside the Saqr military base in southern Baghdad,” Iraq’s joint military-police Baghdad Operations Command wrote on its Facebook page.
The blast came amid reports that Israel has been increasingly carrying out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
Last month, Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, cited Western diplomatic sources as saying an Israeli F-35 plane was behind a July 19 strike on a rocket depot in a Shiite militia base north of Baghdad.
The Saudi-based al-Arabiya network reported at the time that members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah had been killed in the strike. It said the base had shortly before the strike received Iranian ballistic missiles, which were hidden inside trucks.
Iraq’s military said at the time that one fighter was killed and two Iranians wounded, saying the strike was carried out by an unmanned drone. The United States denied involvement.
Asharq Al-Awsat also said that Israel was behind another strike in Iraq carried out Sunday at Camp Ashraf, the former headquarters of the exiled People’s Mujahedin of Iran, located 40 kilometers northeast of Baghdad and 80 kilometers from the Iranian border.
That strike targeted Iranian advisers and a ballistic missile shipment, the newspaper cited sources as saying.
The Israel Defense Forces has not commented on the reports.
Israel does not usually comment on specific reports of strikes, but does insist it has the right to defend itself by targeting positions held by Iran and Hezbollah.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi boasted last month that Israel is the only country in the world that has been “killing Iranians.”
In a speech to the UN General Assembly last September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.” An excerpt from that speech was utilized in a recent Likud election campaign clip.