Explosion Rocks Arms Depot North of Iraq's Capital
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A blast hit an arms depot belonging to Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, north of Baghdad.
The site struck on Tuesday is close to the Balad Air Base, which hosts US forces and contractors and is located about 80km north of the Iraqi capital, in the Salahuddin province, Al Jazeera reported.
The Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate confirmed in a statement that an ammunition warehouse belonging to the volunteer fighters exploded next to Balad air base.
The statement added that “our teams are trying to bring the situation under control.”
An unnamed security source said thick plumes of black smoke are seen billowing from the site, adding that the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unknown.
However, Fadhil Abu Ragheef, a security expert close to Iraqi intelligence services, said the arms depot of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces had been specifically targeted.
He added that the blast was followed by a series of explosions at the warehouse that sent a large amount of shrapnel nearby.
Hashd al-Sha’abi commanders also confirmed that the intended target of the blasts was the group’s position near Balad base.
Mohammad al-Baldawi, a representative of al-Bina party at the Iraqi parliament, stated that the incident is in line with repeated attacks against Hashd al-Sha’abi positions.
On August 13, Abu Ragheef had told Russia's RT Arabic television news network that there is information that the Israeli military was planning to launch airstrikes against the arms depots of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces.
In January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted during a visit to Iraq that the Israeli regime could launch attacks against Hashd al-Sha’abi forces, who played a key role in the Iraqi army’s counter-terrorism battles against the Daesh terror group and helped the government to rid the country of the Takfiri outfit in late 2017.
Pompeo was reported to have made it clear to Iraqi officials at a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister that Washington would not react to possible Israeli attacks against Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.