IRGC, Hezbollah operatives killed in bombing of Iraqi militia base — report

Several members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Hezbollah terror group were killed in Iraq Friday, in a bombing that targeted a base belonging to a militia backed by Iran, according to an Arab report.

The Saudi-based al-Arabiya network said the base had recently received Iranian ballistic missiles, which were hidden inside trucks.

The bombing was reportedly carried out by a drone, but it was not clear who was behind it.

Earlier this month Iraq moved to bring under control Iran-backed militias in the country and place them under the command of Iraqi armed forces.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May told Iraqi leaders during a visit to Baghdad that if they don’t rein in the militias the US will resort to using force, Reuters reported.

The militias fall under the umbrella of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a collection of mostly Shiite militias that fought the Islamic State group and were incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces in 2016. Together they number more than 140,000 fighters, and while they fall under the authority of Iraq’s prime minister, the PMF’s top brass are politically aligned with Iran.

As tensions soared between the US and Iran in recent weeks, Iraq has found itself caught in the middle between two allies. Iraq hosts more than 5,000 US troops, and it is also home to the powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want the US forces to leave.

The crisis gripping the Middle East stems from US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States a year ago from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and then imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran.

Last month, the US ordered the evacuation of nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq amid unspecified threats from Iran. Since then, there have been a string of attacks on US interests in Iraq, including military bases where American trainers are based and a rocket attack near the US Embassy in Baghdad. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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