Explosions at pro-Iran faction’s arms store in Baghdad ‘were deliberate’

A man inspects the damage at a mosque near a weapons depot of an Iraqi militia group after a fire broke out in the depot in Baghdad on August 13, 2019. (REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily)
Updated 14 August 2019

Explosions at pro-Iran faction’s arms store in Baghdad ‘were deliberate’

  • One civilian died and 37 were injured in the blasts at the Falcon weapons store, when arms belonging to the pro-Iran Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada armed group exploded

BAGHDAD: A series of explosions in an arms depot in the southern suburbs of Baghdad was deliberate, and not the result of an accident or negligence, a senior national security official told Arab News on Tuesday.

One civilian died and 37 were injured in the blasts on Monday night at the Falcon weapons store, when arms belonging to the pro-Iran Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada armed group exploded, leading to the launch of short-range Katyusha rockets in all directions.

The blasts caused panic in areas south of Baghdad, where dozens of families took to the streets in fear. 

Civil Defense teams evacuated nearby areas and Baghdad military command cut off the main road between Baghdad and the southern provinces. 

Troops in the capital were on high alert until the early hours of Tuesday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi visited the scene on Tuesday morning and ordered an investigation. 

Preliminary results confirmed that the bombing “was deliberate” and “was not a result of negligence,” a senior national security official told Arab News.

“Preliminary information indicates that the bombing was planned and carried out by an external act,” the official said.

“It is too early to say how the bombing was carried out, but the drones hypothesis is currently excluded.”

A federal police officer told Arab News the commanders of the pro-Iran armed factions “insist on repeating the same story, that a drone struck the warehouse with a missile, but they have nothing to support this theory. Aerial photographs and radar showed nothing.”

Monday’s explosion is the 16th of its kind in less than three years, targeting stocks of military equipment mostly belonging to pro-Iran Shiite armed factions deployed across the country.

“I can say for sure, we expect more of these bombings in the future,” the officer said.


Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

Updated 1 min 27 sec ago

Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

DAMASCUS: Damascus on Monday condemned the deployment of a Turkish military convoy toward a key town in northwestern Syria where regime forces are waging fierce battles with militants and rebels.
“Turkish vehicles loaded with munitions... are heading toward Khan Sheikhun to help the terrorists... which confirms once again the support provided by the Turkish regime to terrorist groups,” a foreign ministry source quoted by the state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal signed between government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey in September.
But it was never fully implemented, as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarized zone.
On Sunday pro-regime forces entered Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province for the first time since they lost control of it in 2014.
They are battling to seize a key highway connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which the regime retook from rebels in December 2016.
Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting.
Militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.