Iraq’s PMF force says base attacked, army investigates

BAGHDAD — A massive explosion at a military base in Iraq early Saturday killed a member of an Iraqi security force that includes Iranian-backed groups. The force commander said it was an attack, while the army said it was investigating and that no fighter jets were in the air at the time.

Two security sources had earlier said an airstrike caused the blast, which killed a member of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and injured eight others at the Kasso military base, about 50 km south of Baghdad.

In a statement, the PMF said its chief of staff, Abdul Aziz al-Mohammedawi, had visited the site and reviewed information provided by investigators.

The Iraqi military said a technical committee was investigating the cause of an explosion and fire at the base, which occurred at 1am GMT on Saturday (10pm GMT on Friday).

“The air defense command report confirmed, through technical efforts and radar detection, that there was no drone or fighter jet in Babil airspace before and during the explosion,” the military said in a statement.

A video broadcast by Al Ahad TV, owned by a PMF faction, showed debris and a crater left by the explosion. The location was confirmed by Reuters.


The incident in Iraq’s Babil province took place amid even greater friction than usual in the Middle East, following what sources said on Friday was an Israeli attack on the Iranian city of Isfahan. Tehran has downplayed it and said it has no plans for retaliation.

That incident came six days after Iran fired a barrage of missiles and drones into Israel in response to a suspected Israeli airstrike that destroyed part of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, killing seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers on April 1 .

The PMF includes Iranian-backed groups that, operating under the banner of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, have attacked US forces in the region and attacked Israel since the outbreak of the Gaza war, expressing support for the Palestinians.

Their attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq stopped in early February after a drone strike killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan, prompting heavy U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

But they claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli city of Eilat on April 1.

The US military’s Central Command denied in a post on X early Saturday what it said were reports that the United States had carried out airstrikes in Iraq.

The PMF began as a group of armed factions, many close to Iran, which was later recognized by Iraqi authorities as a formal security force.