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The New Arab Staff

IS militants reportedly behind explosions in central Iraq

IS militants allegedly attacked electric transmission lines in Iraq's central Babylon governate [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2021

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The explosion was reported by some outlets as US airstrikes on Iran-backed militants in Iraq, prompting US CENTCOM to quickly clear air on the matter.
IS militants attacked electric pylons in areas held by Iran-backed militants in central Iraq, causing explosions, Iraqi security officials said, as remnants of the extremist group continue to target Iraq's state and para-state institutions.

The attacks were reported by some outlets as a series of airstrikes, but this was quickly rejected by Iraq's Security Media Cell.

"A number of electric pylons in the Bahbani region, north of Babylon governate, were attacked and sabotaged by ISIS gangs. This was initially interpreted as air strikes," tweeted the media cell.

In response to reports that the US had carried out airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia groups, Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, denied Washington's involvement.

Read more: US troop levels cut to 2,500 each in Afghanistan and Iraq


"Explosions reported earlier today about 40 miles outside of Baghdad, Iraq, in the town of Jurf Sakhar were not the result of US military action," said a tweet by the spokesman.

The explosions, which resulted in neither deaths nor injuries, occurred after electron pylons were targeted in Jurf Al Sakhar, an area held by the Iran-backed hardline group Kataib Hezbollah, one of the umbrella network of militias forming Iraq's state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Despite official and militia sources laying the blame on IS, the extremist group has not yet confirmed that it was involved.

Since officially declaring victory against the extremists in 2017, Iraq has continued to be hit by sporadic acts of violence and sabotage by IS, particularly in volatile areas in and around Baghdad.

High voltage power line in remote areas in eastern and northern provinces have seen explosions which have resulted in massive power outages, security sources say.

Iraq has started tightening security along its 600km neighboring border with Syria in an attmept to curb the possible influx of IS militants, as well as drug smuggling and other illegal activities, Reuters have reported.

The remote desert frontier is controlled by various forces - including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian regime army, and US-backed Kurdish forces.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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