Israel has been alleged to have attacked an Iranian target in Iraq, the fourth such known incident over the past several weeks. Several explosions erupted at a militant installation belonging to the powerful Popular Mobilization Forces, PMF – or Hashd al-Shaab in Arabic – an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization that is predominantly composed of Shi’ite militias that receive most of their training, logistical support and operational directives from Iran and its Lebanese-proxy Hezbollah, including the commander of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, General Qassem Suleimani.
According to Iraqi Civil Defense, ‘Yesterday’s explosions devastated several of PMF’s bases and warehouses near Balad air base, which is located some 80 kilometers (equal to just under 50 miles) north of the country’s capital, Baghdad.’
An Iraqi military source revealed to TV7 that the targets of the attack were several weapons caches that sustained devastating damage. Witnesses confirmed this statement, reporting that the massive explosions caused stored rockets to fly into nearby farmland and into the Balad base itself.
Shortly after the incident, Iraq’s Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari visited the site, during which he told the Iraqi state television that several of the blazes that erupted after the explosions had been put out. He further noted that some military personnel had suffered minor injuries.
It is important to note that the Balad Air Force’ base hosts U.S. military personnel and Western contractors, yet – thankfully – there were no reports of injuries among any Western forces.
While there were no claims of responsibility for the attack; informed sources in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv confirmed to TV7 that Israeli units were involved in clandestine operations against Iranian targets in Iraq. One of the sources also noted that “all of the Israeli operations are conducted in full-coordination with the United States.” That said, he refuted any coordination between Moscow and Jerusalem regarding Iraq, emphasizing that “the Russian-Israeli coordination-mechanism is meant exclusively for Israeli aerial operations in Syria, with the sole aim of assuring deconfliction.”