Explosion Damages Iraqi Base Used by Iran-backed Group

Iraq’s joint military command says one person was killed and eight were injured in an explosion early Saturday at a base used by an Iranian-backed armed group, Harakat al Nujaba, in Iraq’s Babylon Province.

In a carefully worded statement, Iraq’s military did not attribute the explosion to an air attack with a missile or a drone. “Air Defense Command confirmed that there was no drone or jet fighter in the airspace of Babylon Province before and during the explosion,” the statement said.

Privately, however, military officials say it appears that at least one projectile had hit inside the Kalsu base’s perimeter. A video taken shortly after the event and posted on social media showed damaged buildings and a large rubble-filled crater. A second video showed several parts of the base on fire.

According to Iraq’s joint command, the base is used by several elements of the Iraqi security forces including the Iraqi army and police as well as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or P.M.F., an umbrella organization.

The P.M.F. includes some brigades that are backed by Iran. The one stationed at this base, Harakat al Nujaba, has participated in attacks on U.S. installations in Iraq and Syria. More recently it has joined with other Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Lebanon to attack Israeli territory.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike.

The U.S. military, which has carried out strikes on Iranian-backed armed groups in Iraq in the past, said in a statement released shortly after the attack that it had not participated in strikes on locations in Iraq. The Israeli military declined to comment.

The explosion came a day after Israel attacked a military air base near the city of Isfahan in central Iran, according to two Israeli and three Iranian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. That attack, on Friday, appeared to be Israel’s first military response to Iran’s massive drone and missile attack on Israeli soil nearly a week ago.

Falih Hassan contributed from Baghdad.

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