Iran-backed Militias: Israeli Drones Operating as Part of U.S. Fleet in Iraq

Deputy head of the militias known collectively as Popular Mobilization Forces says group has accurate information showing U.S. brought in four Israeli drones this year to work as part of the U.S. fleet in Iraq

Plumes of smoke rise after an explosion at a military base southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, August 12, 2019
Loay Hameed,AP

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have said they hold the United States responsible for a series of attacks targeting militia bases across the country.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the deputy head of the militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, says the group has accurate information that shows the U.S. brought in four Israeli drones this year to work as part of the U.S. fleet in Iraq and target militia positions in Iraq.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis says the PMF will from now on use "all means at its disposal to deter and prevent such attacks on our positions."

An Iraqi government report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday said a massive explosion at a munitions depot run by an Iranian-backed militia near Baghdad was caused by a drone strike.

The report, outlining the findings of the committee, says the Aug. 12 explosion at the al-Saqr military base, which killed one civilian and wounded 28, wasn't caused by faulty storage or an electricity circuit as had been suggested.

The report instead blamed it on a drone strike that caused a huge fire. It didn't say who the drone belonged to. A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The blast was the latest in a series to hit bases for Iran-backed militia groups operating in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi ordered an urgent investigation.