Alwaght- A position of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, has been rocked by several powerful explosions.
The Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate announced in a statement that an ammunition warehouse belonging to the pro-government volunteer fighters exploded next to Balad air base, which hosts US forces and contractors and is located about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, on Tuesday evening.
The statement added that “our teams are trying to bring the situation under control."
An unnamed security source said thick plumes of black smoke are seen billowing from the site, adding that the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unknown.
However, Fadhil Abu Ragheef, a security expert close to Iraqi intelligence services, said the arms depot of PMF had been specifically targeted.
He added that the blast was followed by a series of explosions at the warehouse that sent a large amount of shrapnel nearby.
PMF commanders also confirmed that the intended target of the blasts was the group’s position near Balad base.
Mohammad al-Baldawi, a representative of al-Bina party at the Iraqi parliament, stated that the incident is in line with repeated attacks against PMF positions.
On August 13, Abu Ragheef had told Russia's RT Arabic television news network that there is information that the Israeli military was planning to launch airstrikes against the arms depots of Popular Mobilization Forces.
"Available information suggests that Israel is preparing to bomb the weapons caches of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces, and not the command centers or fortifications of the fighters. This is quite likely to happen,” he said.
He added that a powerful explosion, which rocked a military base in southern Baghdad on August 12, could be part of the Israeli scenario. Sayf al-Badr, spokesman of the Iraqi Health Ministry, said in a statement that at least one person was killed and 29 others were wounded in the blast.
In January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted during a visit to Iraq that the Israeli regime could launch attacks against PMF, who played a key role in the Iraqi army’s counter-terrorism battles against the ISIS terror group and helped the government to rid the country of the Takfiri outfit in late 2017.
Pompeo was reported to have made it clear to Iraqi officials at a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister that Washington would not react to possible Israeli attacks against Popular Mobilization Forces.
Abdul-Mahdi expressed concern about the statement and warned Pompeo that such actions by Israel would have grave consequences, Russia’s RT Arabic television news network reported back then.
Reacting to the reports, Moein al-Kazemi, PMF commander, said the force was ready to deliver a “strong” response to any aggression, advising the regime in Tel Aviv not to “play with fire.”
The Israeli regime has a record of attacking the forces fighting ISIS Takfiri terrorist group in Syria.
In June 2018, Popular Mobilization Forces came under attack in Syria’s border town of al-Hari, in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, as they were chasing ISIS terrorists out of the area.
Both the Syrian government and PMF declared back then that the attack near the Iraqi-Syrian border had been deliberate and could only have been carried out by either Israel or the United States.