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Iraqi paramilitary group blames U.S., Israel for blasts at weapons depots

Popular Mobilization Forces

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed the United States and Israel for a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases.

In a press statement, a copy of which was obtained by Egypt’s Ahram Online, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

“We announce that the first and last entity responsible for what happened is the American forces, and we will hold them responsible for whatever happens from today onwards,” said the statement.

The PMF statement came a day after several blasts hit a position held by a PMF group near Balad air base about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

As tensions between Washington and Tehran increase, Iraq finds itself caught between neighboring Iran, whose regional influence has grown in recent years, and the United States.

The U.S.-led coalition, in Iraq to fight remnants of the Islamic State group, dismissed the statement.

“The mission of CJTF-OIR in Iraq is solely to enable our Iraqi Security Force partners in the mission of an enduring defeat of Daesh,” it said, using an alternative name for Islamic State. “We operate in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq and comply with their laws and direction.”

Iraq declared victory over Islamic States in 2017, but there are still operations near-weekly against the group.

A blast last week at a weapons depot run by one group sent rockets careening across southern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding 29 others. Police at the time attributed the explosion to poor storage and high temperatures, but a government investigation is underway.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last week ordered all ammunition dumps belonging to the armed forces or paramilitary groups to be moved outside of cities.



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