We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Iranians chant slogans during an anti-Israeli gathering in Tehran. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
Middle East

Explosion reported at Iraq military base hosting pro-Iranian forces

Iraq’s security services said there were no drones or warplanes in the air during the incident overnight.

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE wounded in a “bombing” overnight on an Iraqi military base housing a coalition of pro-Iranian armed groups, two security sources said early Saturday.

The explosion hit the Calso military base in Babylon province south of Baghdad, where Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, or Hashed al-Shaabi, is stationed, according to an interior ministry source and a military official.

The ministry of interior official said the “aerial bombing” had killed one person and wounded eight others, while the military source reported three Iraqi military personnel had been wounded in a strike.

In a statement, Hashed al-Shaabi said an “explosion” had inflicted “material losses” and casualties, without specifying the number of wounded.

The group confirmed that its premises on the military base had been hit and that investigators had been sent to the site.

Iraq’s security services said today that there were no drones or warplanes in the air during overnight explosions that rocked a military base housing a coalition of pro-Iranian armed groups.

The blasts hit Calso military base in Babylon province south of Baghdad, where Iraq’s pro-Iranian Popular Mobilisation Forces, or Hashed al-Shaabi, are stationed along with army and police forces, officials said.

An Iraqi security forces media unit said in a statement that air defence command reported “no drones or combat aircraft in the airspace of Babylon province before or during the explosion”.

Responding to questions from AFP, security sources would not identify who was responsible, or say whether it had been a drone strike.

“The explosion hit equipment, weapons and vehicles,” said the ministry source.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Shortly after the explosion, the US military said its forces were not behind a reported strike in Iraq.

“The United States has not conducted air strikes in Iraq today,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) posted on social media platform X, adding that reports that American forces had carried out a strike were “not true.”

The Iraqi military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, said the overnight explosion had occurred in “warehouses storing equipment”.

“A fire is still raging and the search for the injured is continuing,” the source said.

When reached by AFP, the Israeli army said it “does not comment on information published in foreign media.”

Hashed al-Shaabi, an alliance of mainly Shiite armed groups formed to fight the Islamic State group, has been integrated into Iraq’s regular security apparatus.

The explosion on the Iraqi military base comes amid spiralling regional tensions over the war between Israel and Iran-backed Palestinian militants Hamas.

Yesterday, strikes blamed on Israel targeted a military base near the city of Isfahan in central Iran.

A senior US Congressional source told AFP there had been retaliatory Israeli strikes but declined to provide any details, saying they were classified.

Israeli officials made no public comment on yesterday’s attack and Iranian officials have played down its significance.

Hamas meeting in Turkey

Meanwhile, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh will meet Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today with Middle East tensions at a high after Israel’s reported attack on Iran and Gaza bracing for a new Israeli offensive.

Erdogan has sought but failed to establish a foothold as a mediator in the Palestinian conflict. And he has remained discreet about his meetings with the Hamas head.

“We will keep the agenda between us and Mr Haniyeh,” Erdogan said when questioned by journalists on Friday.

But with Qatar saying it will reassess its role as a mediator between Hamas and Israel, Erdogan sent his foreign minister Hakan Fidan to Doha on Wednesday in a new sign that he wants a role.

“Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people,” the president said Wednesday when he announced Hamiyeh’s looming visit.

Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011 when Turkey helped secure the agreement for the group to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Erdogan has maintained links with Haniyeh, who has been a frequent visitor.

The meeting comes as the Gazan health ministry says that at least 34,049 people have been killed in the territory during more than six months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The tally includes at least 37 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 76,901 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.

© AFP 2024