Iraqi forces raid Iran-backed military base in Baghdad, following rockets fired at US troops

Iraqi forces raid Iran-backed military base in Baghdad, following rockets fired at US troops
Earlier this week US officials claimed the Kataib Hezbollah faction fired rockets at bases in Iraq.
2 min read
26 June, 2020
Coronavirus has made things difficult for the conflict-ridden country [Getty]

Iraq security raided a base in southern Baghdad owned by Iran-backed military and detained dozens of members from the group, government officials said.

The raid targeted the Kataib Hezbollah faction, which US officials earlier this week accused of firing rockets at bases hosting US troops.

Details around what happened are inconsistent. Paramilitary sources and one government official told Reuters that those detained were transferred to the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), though a second government official denied the transfer occurred.

The Popular Mobilisation Forces is a collection of mostly Shia 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. While they fall under the authority of Iraq's prime minister, the PMF's top brass are politically aligned with Iran.

One source said 19 soldiers were detained, whilst another said that number was 23.

The raid, led by Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was a response to rocket fire attacks near the US embassy in Baghdad and other US military sites in.

It has the potential of setting up a showdown between the government and the powerful militias, with reports suggesting pro-Iran politicians are pressuring (Arabic link) the government to release the detainees.

One government official told Reuters three commanders of Kataib Hezbollah had been detained during the raid, carried out by Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service.

One of those commanders was an Iranian, he claimed.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include background on the PMF.

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