'Bombing' hits Iraq military base: security sources

People, holding banners and Palestinian flags, gather in front of the Abu Hanifa an-Numan Mosque to protest against the bombing of Gaza's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq on October 18, 2023. [AFP Photo]

Several people were wounded in a "bombing" overnight on an Iraqi military base housing a coalition of pro-Iranian armed groups, two security sources said early Saturday.

The explosion hit the Calso military base in Babylon province south of Baghdad, where Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, or Hashed al-Shaabi, is stationed, according to an interior ministry source and a military official.

The ministry of interior official said the "aerial bombing" had killed one person and wounded eight others, while the military source reported three Iraqi military personnel had been wounded in a strike.

In a statement, Hashed al-Shaabi said an "explosion" had inflicted "material losses" and casualties, without specifying the number of wounded.

The group confirmed that its premises on the military base had been hit and that investigators had been sent to the site.

Responding to questions from AFP, the security sources would not identify who was responsible, or say whether it had been a drone strike.

"The explosion hit equipment, weapons, and vehicles," said the ministry source.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Shortly after the explosion, the US military said its forces were not behind a reported strike in Iraq.

"The United States has not conducted air strikes in Iraq today," US Central Command (CENTCOM) posted on social media platform X, adding that reports that American forces had carried out a strike were "not true."

The Iraqi military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, said the overnight explosion had occurred in "warehouses storing equipment".

"A fire is still raging and the search for the injured is continuing," the source said.

When reached by AFP, the Israeli army said it "does not comment on information published in foreign media."

Hashed al-Shaabi, an alliance of mainly Shiite armed groups formed to fight the Islamic State group, has been integrated into Iraq's regular security apparatus.

The explosion on the Iraqi military base comes amid spiralling regional tensions over the war between Israel and Iran-backed Palestinian militants Hamas.

On Friday, strikes blamed on Israel targeted a military base near the city of Isfahan in central Iran.

A senior US Congressional source told AFP there had been retaliatory Israeli strikes but declined to provide any details, saying they were classified.

Israeli officials made no public comment on Friday's attack and Iranian officials have played down its significance.