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Timeline: Tracking reports of mysterious explosions and "airstrikes" in Iraq directed at PMU bases

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Recent reports of explosions at bases of the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq have led to claims that a foreign power is involved in airstrikes and counterclaims that the series of explosions at areas where munitions are stored is due to summer heat.

Below can be found reports in media and social media, as well as photos relating to the incidents at Camp Ashraf, Amerli, Camp Falcon and near Balad Air Force Base.

July 19

Unidentified drone bombs Iran-allied militia base in Iraq, Kurdistan24

Hezbollah points finger at Israel, US for drone attack targeting pro-Tehran militants in Iraq, AFP, i24 News

"We are aware of the reports of an attack against the Iranians." - OIR Spokesperson (@OIRSpox) July 19, 2019.

July 20

Hashd Al-Shaabi: No Iranian Forces Killed in Drone Attack against Amerli Base, Fars News

July 21

'A mysterious drone attacked Iran-backed militia in Iraq,' The Jerusalem Post

July 22

PMF denies its camp was attacked, Asharq al-Awsat

"A member of the State of Law Coalition MP Mansour al-Baiji accused the United States of bombing this camp [near Amerli]."

July 28

US sanctions scare militias in Iraq, online message board

July 30

"London-based Asharq al-Awsat, quoting Western diplomats, says Israel was behind the mysterious recent drone strikes in Iraq targeting Iran-linked militia bases in Amerli, Salahuddin, and at Camp Ashraf in Diyala."

July 31

In Major Shift, Israel Twice Struck Iranian Targets in Iraq 'Using F-35' - Haaretz, based on Asharq Al-Awsat

August 1

'Israel jets appear to have struck Iraq,' Wall Street Journal

August 12

Residents urged to avoid areas near Camp Falcon and other munitions storage after explosion

Map of four incidents from July 19 to August 20

August 13

Photos of Iraqi civil defense at Camp Falcon, Twitter account

Iraq social media commentators blame "foreign actors" for attacks

August 14

Satellite images show Camp Falcon after explosion, The Jerusalem Post

How Iraqi militias interpret third explosion, The Jerusalem Post

August 15

August 16

US now needs Iraq permission to fly, Newsweek

Iraqi MP blames US for attacks

August 17

"Leader of Iraqi Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Militia says recent explosions at PMF (Hashd) ammunition storage sites is proof there is a plan to attack PMF. Accusations that Israel is responsible for these explosions."

Iraq seeks to cancel US aircraft blanket clearances

August 18

Iraqi security expert blames Israel for attacks

Why did Iraq restrict use of its airspace, Rudaw

August 19

"Iraqi Fatah Coalition warns of International Coalition attacks led by US against PMF (Hashd) claiming by mistake. US has been attacking PMF & Federal Police positions since 2014 without response. Law needs to be passed to expel foreign forces."

"Iraqi Nujaba militia: the US struck the PMF (Hashd) Saqr Base in Baghdad. US is moving ISIS & some tribes to confront PMF. We must pass a law to remove US forces."

August 20

Photo of Iraqi firefighters on August 20 battling flames

Iraqi Security Media Cell spokesperson Yehia Rasool told Rudaw the press conference comments will not face serious Baghdad consideration."What Netanyahu said is only speech, confirming nothing," Rasool said. "Iraq will take an Israeli statement seriously only if it is released through the Israeli defense ministry." Rudaw

Iraqi Sumer news: Israel says it can hit Iran wherever it wants

"Unknown aircraft bomb military base of Ktaib Hezbollah." Al-Ain.

Israel TV and radio both report about strike in Iraq

Geolocation of site of explosion, Twitter

Iraqi Minister of Defense and Army Chief of Staff arrive at Balad to oversee civil defense, Twitter account

Video of explosion near Balad AFB, Youtube

"Iraqi security source says ammunition explosion at Balad Base in Salah ad-Din Province was caused by drone. Iraqi MP says there was a similar explosion at Ein al-Asad Base in Anbar Province, which was also a deliberate act....Iraqi Civil Defense extinguishes fire at Balad Air Base. Fire was result of explosion of ammunition storage site belonging to Kata’ib Imam Ali PMF militia. Cause of explosion possibly drone, mortar fire or something else." See report

US CENTCOM refers reports to Iraqi authorities “We are aware of open source reports of explosions near al-Balad base. Please contact the Iraqi Ministry of Defence for more information.”

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis statement blaming US and Israel

August 21

"Baghdad sent 10 support teams amounting to 30 vehicles to fight and contain the fire. It's been fully extinguished since hours ago," - Twitter account

"Israel pursues Iran in Iraq with US approval and Russian cover" Asharq al-Awsat

"The deputy chairman of the Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said that the US and Israel were the ones who targeted a weapon depot and other PMF targets in Iraq recently in order to weaken the group. 'We have evidence that shows US has brought four Israeli drones into Iraq,' Muhandis said in a post on the PMF’s Facebook page. 'US are using the drones to target the PMF and Iraqi bases, rather than  targeting Daesh,' he added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS)." - Rudaw

Muhandis' statement starts with a verse of Quran: (Then whoever transgresses against you, you transgress likewise against him.) (2:194).- Baxtiyar Goran points out.

US says it is in Iraq at invitation of the Government of Iraq and comply with their laws and direction.

More on PMU accusations

August 22

"American officials told the AP the U.S. has no evidence or credible intelligence that Israel was behind the two most recent blasts — on Tuesday or on Aug. 12. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue. They also said the U.S. was not responsible for any of the strikes. The CIA, however, also runs its own clandestine drone program separate from the U.S. military. The CIA declined to comment on the explosions." - Military Times

Kata'aib Hezbollah again threatens US

Al-Jarida: Israel considering striking Yemen

Iraq media debates if Israel responsible

El-Etejah says US pressuring Baghdad on Patriot air defense

ImageSat released images of alleged airstrikes and "road to sea"

Middle East Eye: Is Israel striking Iran-backed paramilitaries PMF divided on blaming US and Israel

Sairoon says Parliament will have statement on recent attacks President, Prime Minister and Parliament speaker convene on alleged attacks

Kata'ib Hezbollah: Final warning to Americans 12th PMU brigade says it fired on drone, footage was published also

Reuters: Netanyahu hints Israel behind Iraq attacks

Al-Jarida: Israel plans to target Houthis in Yemen

Iran unveils new air defense

IRGC Quds Force and militia members try to target Israel with drone from Arneh near Golan

August 23

US officials tell NYT that Israel struck in Iraq "senior American official said that Israel was pushing the limits with strikes in Iraq. Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate diplomatic matters, the official said the airstrikes could get the US military removed from Iraq."

A look at previous ImageSat details on Iran "land bridge," June 2018, and May 2019 as well as the most recent.

"We are operating - not just if needed, we are operating in many areas against a state that wants to annihilate us. Of course, I gave the security forces a free hand and instructed them to do anything necessary to thwart Iran's plans," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

LA Times: Israel appears to have attacked Iranian depot in Iraq, leads to renewed calls for US to leave.

Bloomberg: Heat might have caused explosions.

August 24

Houthis unveil two new air defense technologies

Maliki in Iraq discusses strikes on PMU, says Iraq will respond

Provincial councils want to know results of investigation into PMU strikes

Soleimani suggests internal PMU divisions end after Muhandis condemned airstrikes and blamed US

Sadiqun Coalition MP demands US leave Iraq soon

Israel says it struck IRGC Quds Force and Shi'ite militias near Aqrabeh, Syria.

Press TV: US-Israeli attacks on PMU meant to revive Daesh in Iraq: Kata'ib Hezbollah

August 25

Hezbollah says it downed two Israeli drones over Beirut

Netanyahu tours northern Israel IDF command

Lebanon condemns Israeli aggression.

Nasrallah gives speech, says that Lebanese air space must be defended and threatens to retaliate if Israel kills "brethren" in Syria.

PMU reports drone strike near Al-Qaim, see El-Etejah and a "strikes on equipment stores belonging to the 45th Brigade in Al-Qaim district," cars were targeted according to photos. Details include that it was unclear how many casualties, "KH is based in the railway neighborhood close to the border..." one user reports the unit affected was Knights of the Sons of the Karbouli Tribe in Akkaz field south of Al-Qaim. However casualties were from Logistics 45. Al-Manar reports casualties.

PMU says one killed in drone strike near Al-Qaim, "Kataib Hezbollah source told AFP

that killed fighter is Abu Ali al-Dabi, member of KH's rocket unit at Qaim. 'He fought in Syria and was previously detained by the Americans,' the source said."

PMU accuses Israel of attack and "Fatah coalition which is the PMF parliamentary bloc issued statement accusing Israel on bombing their headquarters in iraq and consider it a 'declare of war against iraq,' and a dangerous turning point.'"

August 26

Sadr says that it is unlikely Israel conducted attacks.

Some Iraqi officials say Israel strikes a "declaration of war."

Fatah coalition condemns "Zionist" aggression and holds US responsible

The Fatah Coalition said on Monday it holds the United States fully responsible for this Israeli aggression, “which we consider to be a declaration of war on Iraq and its people.”

PMF units in Anbar and Nineveh fire at drones.

Meeting of leaders in Iraq to take steps to defense "soveriegnty."

“We support Iraqi sovereignty and have repeatedly spoken out against any potential actions by external actors inciting violence in Iraq,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan R. Hoffman said in a statement late Monday...The government of Iraq has the right to control their own internal security and protect their democracy.”

US denies attack in Al-Qaim that killed PMF: “US forces did not conduct the recent attack on a convoy or any recent attacks that resulted in the explosion of ammunition storage facilities in Iraq. Statements to the contrary are false, misleading, and inflammatory.” See full statement

August 27

MPs demand parliamentary session to discuss "Zionist aggression."

US stop surveillance in Anbar

Houthis fire missile at Saudi

Middle East Eye: Strikes carried out by Israel from SDF-held areas in Syria

August 29

'Iraq facing resistance in crackdown on militias', - Reuter

"Today's outrage -- Shia Nujba leader Kabi said that Israel has a military base in Erbil, Kurdistan...Reportedly, Baghdad asked KRG to condemn the strikes against Shia militia groups in Iraq. KRG said NO." - Yerevan Saad

Lebanese media reports Israel comments on Iraq strikes

Al-Sumaria reports on Israel: Israel, the US and Iran against us

Cartoon at El-Etejah on Aug 30

August 30

"Abu Alaa al-Wala’i, head of the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) militia, made the threat [against US in Iraq] on Wednesday during an interview with al-Dijla,' - Kurdistan24

Al-Etejah reports on "raids believed to be Israeli."

August 31

Iraq Defense Ministry says any attack on an entity in Iraq is an attack on Iraq.

Iraqi media circulate rumors about Israeli camp in Kurdish areas

Iraq parliament's Hassan al-Kaabi discusses need for air defense with defense minister Najah al-Shammari

September 2

Muhandis visits Brigade 45 casualty who died in Al-Qaim attack

Wataniq: "an agreement between several factions, most notably" Hezbollah battalions, the Nujaba movement, Saraya al-Khurasani, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Sayyed al-Shuhada 'brigades, to join the Lebanese front if the Israeli occupation expands its attacks on Lebanon"

September 3

MEMRI: Iraqi Shi'ite Militias: U.S. Is To Blame For Attacks On Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi (PMU) Positions; U.S. Interests In Iraq Are Within Range Of Our Weapons.

September 5

Alarab: Kataiib Hezbollah could take over airport

Raialyoum: Threats against journalists in Iraq after Al-Hurra ban

"PMF Deputy Chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis that ordered the establishment of an 'Air Force Directorate' for the militia groups," leads to condemnation of Sadr and controversy.

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