News ID: 257746
Published: 0839 GMT August 24, 2019

Iraq summons US diplomat over alleged Israel airstrikes

Iraq summons US diplomat over alleged Israel airstrikes
Iraq's Foreign Ministry's official website

International Desk

Iraq summoned a US diplomat in Baghdad amid reports suggesting that Israel launched several airstrikes on weapon caches belonging to Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) last month.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim told the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Baghdad Brian McFeeters that Iraq is committed to the principle of establishing good relations with neighboring countries to preserve the security of Iraq and the region, and that Iraq is not an arena for conflict, but for construction and development, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Iraq also urged the US to stay committed to a strategic security agreement signed between the two countries.

The meeting came after two US officials confirmed on Friday that Israel was responsible for the bombing of a weapons depot in Iraq last month.

The mystery attacks have not been claimed by any side and have left Iraqi officials scrambling for a response, amid strong speculation that Israel may have been behind them.

Earlier this week, the deputy head of the Iraqi militias openly accused Israeli drones of carrying out the attacks, but ultimately blamed Washington and threatened strong retaliation for any future attack.

There have been at least three explosions at Iraqi militia bases in the past month. American officials now confirm Israel was responsible for at least one of them.

The two American officials said Israel carried out an attack on a weapons depot in July that killed two commanders. The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

On Friday, former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki warned of a "strong response" if it is proven that Israel was behind the airstrikes in Iraq.

In statements issued by his office, he also said that if Israel continues to target Iraq, the country "will transform into a battle arena that drags in multiple countries, including Iran," according to.

Maliki was Iraqi prime minister for eight years and now heads a Shia bloc in parliament.

The July 19 attack struck a militia base in Amirli, in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin Province, causing a huge explosion and fire.

On August 12, a massive explosion at the Al-Saqr military base near Baghdad shook the capital, killing one civilian and wounding 28 others. The base housed a weapons depot for the Iraqi federal police and the PMF. The most recent of the explosions came Tuesday night, at a munitions depot north of Baghdad.

There have been weeks of speculation in Israel that the army is attacking targets in Iraq.

In an interview with a Russian-language TV station on Thursday, Netanyahu indicated the speculation is true.

The attack would be the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built by the Arab country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein.




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