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For first time, Iraqi PM blames Israel for attacks on Iran-backed militias Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

For first time, Iraqi PM blames Israel for attacks on Iran-backed militias

The Hashd al-Shaabi was established in 2014 from mostly-Shia armed groups and volunteers. [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2019

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Since mid-July, more than five arms depots and training camps belonging to the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces have been targeted in attacks.

Iraq's prime minister has for the first time directly blamed Israel for a series of airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed militia forces in the country.

Since mid-July, more than five Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) arms depots and training camps have been targeted in apparent attacks. 

The latest such incident took place on Friday when unidentified aircraft launched airstrikes on PMF bases near Syria's border.

The PMF have repeatedly blamed Israel for the raids by unmanned aircraft, but for the first time on Monday Iraq's prime minister also accused Israel of being behind the attacks.

"Investigations into the targeting of some Popular Mobilisation Forces positions indicate that Israel carried it out," Adel Abdul Mahdi was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military declined to comment on the Iraqi premier's remarks.

US and Middle Eastern intelligence officials confirmed in August that a string of unclaimed attacks against the Shia militia bases in Iraq were carried out by Israel.

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Israel has repeatedly bombed Iranian targets in neighbouring Syria, but an expansion of the campaign to Iraq would risk damaging Washington's relations with Baghdad.

Israel has accused Tehran of attempting to establish a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria, and the strikes appear to correspondent with this alleged supply route.

Iran has a strong military or militia presence in Iraq and Syria and backs Lebanese movement Hezbollah. 

The PMF was established in 2014 from mostly-Shia armed groups and volunteers to fight the Islamic State group and is now formally part of Iraq's armed forces.

But the US and Israel fear some units are an extension of their arch-foe Iran and have been equipped with precision-guided missiles that could reach Israel. 

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