Massive Explosion at Iraqi Base Linked to Iranian-Backed Militias

Iraq
(photo credit: REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI)

An Iraqi military base that has a large ammunition dump exploded on Sunday. The same base was the scene of a mysterious explosion last year that pro-Iranian militias in Iraq blamed on Israel. Explosions on July 26 appeared similar to those last year but also similar to blasts that took place at the same base when it was used by the US and mortar fire ignited ammunition in 2006.

Iraq’s Security Media Cell was quick to tamp down on rumors about the explosion, claiming that the massive fireballs and smoke seen rising from the camp were actually an accident caused by ammunition stored in a warehouse. It was a hot day in Baghdad, part of a heatwave in the region, and temperature allegedly caused the explosion. However, it is unclear given the base’s history of explosions over the years, with at least four incidents, why the ammunition has never been security.

Iranian leaders recently met Iraq’s Prime Minister. He has tried to crack down on Kataib Hezbollah, a part of the PMU, but these groups have burned his image and also accused his administration of role in a kidnapping of a German woman who was recently released in Baghdad. It appears the militias linked to Iran were responsible not only for the kidnapping but murdering an Iraq analyst recently.

In this context the explosion adds fuel to the fire of tensions. That is why Iraq has quickly said it was an accident, so that rumors do not grow.

However, last July and August initial reports also said the explosions were accidents. Analysis by ImageSat International last year said that it was likely several explosions were linked and designed to weaken Iran’s “land bridge” of weapons trafficking by which Iran moves weapons to Syria and Hezbollah. The August 12 explosion at Camp Falcon or Saqr Camp was part of that. Iran has moved ballistic missiles to Iraq in August 2018 and again in November 2019 according to reports.

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