Israel hits Iranian targets in Iraq

Israel has reportedly targeted the military bases of Iran backed militias inside Iraq, according to a new report in the London-based Saudi daily Al Sharq Al Awsat.

The first attack took place on 19 July at a base in Amreli, in Saladin province, which is used by pro-Iranian militias of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force, or PMF). Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) sources told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida that an Israeli drone launched from a US base in Syria attacked the base.

Commenting on the 19 July attack, A PMF media official, Ali al-Husseini, told Asharq Al-Awsat last week that: “We must await the results of the probe to find out what type of aircraft carried out the strike. The strength of the rocket indicates that it was probably not fired by a drone.”

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya reported that Iranian-made ballistic missiles were transported to the base via trucks used to transport refrigerated food shortly before the airstrike. The US-led anti-ISIS coalition had put out a statement on 19 July saying they were aware of reports “of an attack against the Iranians and a Popular Mobilization Force unit in Salah a-Din [governorate]. Coalition Forces were not involved, and we have no further information at this time”.

Al Sharq Al Awsat also claims that Israel attacked a base in Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, on Sunday, targeting Iranian advisers and a shipment of ballistic missiles that had just arrived from Iran. According to Arab media reports, Hezbollah fighters and members of the IRGC were among the casualties.

Last week Israeli political sources said: “Israel has recently passed on to the US and EU countries messages indicating that if the Iranian presence in Iraq is not addressed, Israel will not remain idle and will have to act.”

Western intelligence believes that Iran has provided Shia militias in Iraq with dozens of precision-guided ballistic missiles with the aim of establishing an additional “base” in Iraq following Israel’s repeated successful strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. The missiles are reported to be of the Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar types.