Middle East
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Missiles Used in Iraq Attack Match Those Used by Israel in Syria Strikes, Kuwaiti Media Claims

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On Friday, AP reported that an unmanned drone had carried out strikes against a base in Iraq used by the Popular Mobilisation Forces, the mostly Shia Iraqi paramilitary force which took part in the campaign to defeat Daesh and which has received assistance and training from Iran.

Israel may be behind Thursday night’s mystery drone attack on an alleged Iranian-backed militia base in Amirli, northeastern Iraq, Kuwait’s Al-Jarida newspaper has alleged, citing a source in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

According to Al-Jarida’s source, the attack on the militia depot, which contained stocks of short- and medium-range missiles, as well as a militia headquarters building, was allegedly carried out by an aircraft flying out of an American base near the Syrian-Jordan-Iraqi border, possibly al-Tanf.

The source claimed that the preliminary results of a forensic investigation by the Iraqi government have suggested that they were the same type used by Israel during its periodic attacks against Syria.

Al-Jarida also claimed that during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Iraq in May, Pompeo warned Iraqi officials that Israel could strike “Iranian targets” in the country “at any time.”

Iraqi sources speaking to the newspaper said that Baghdad will be unlikely to officially accuse Israel, because it would put the government ‘in a difficult position’, and lead to popular anger demanding the restructuring of the armed forces.

Officials from Iraq, Iran, and Israel have not commented on the newspaper’s allegations.

No country or group has claimed responsibility for Thursday night’s attack, which reportedly killed one militia fighter and injured two others, who may have been Iranian advisers. The US immediately denied any involvement,  with a Pentagon spokesman saying bluntly that “US forces were not involved.”  An Iraqi Civil Defence Corps spokesman said the perpetrator “remains unknown.”

The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) are an umbrella paramilitary force consisting mostly of Iraqi Shia Muslim militias formed in June 2014 to fight Daesh (ISIS)* and to check the terrorist group's advance into Iraq and Syria. Some of the member militias in the PMF took part in fighting the US occupation after the 2003 invasion, and have received training and material assistance from Iran. Relations between the PMF and US forces operating in Iraq have deteriorated in the months following Daesh's retreat, with the two sides generally committing to avoiding operating in the same areas to avoid exacerbating tensions.

* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.