Former Iraqi PM threatens ‘strong response’ if Israel involved in recent attacks

Former Iraqi PM threatens ‘strong response’ if Israel involved in recent attacks

2019/08/23 | 19:10 - Source: kurdistan 24

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned on Friday of a “strong response” if Israel is proven to have been behind recent airstrikes on militia bases in Iraq.

The Iraqi politician said that if Israel continues to conduct airstrikes in Iraq, the country “will transform into a battle arena that drags in multiple countries, including Iran,” read a statement issued by his press office.

Maliki served as the Prime Minister of Iraq from 2006 until 2014, and is still the leader of Shia Islamic Dawa Party, the fourth-largest parliamentary bloc in parliament with 25 seats.

He is known for his strong affiliation and allegiance to neighboring Iran.

His comments came hours after two anonymous US officials confirmed to the Associated Press that Israel was responsible for targeting facilities of pro-Iran Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The attacks included the bombing of a weapons depot in July that killed two militia commanders.

Read More: Unidentified drone bombs Iran-allied militia base in Iraq

The bombing marks an increasing escalation in Israel’s year-long campaign against Iranian proxy militias in the region.

PMF Deputy Chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis recently blamed the airstrikes targeting their munitions warehouses in Iraq on both the US and Israel.

Read More: Iran-backed militias blame US for strikes on arms depots in Iraq

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted of possible Israeli involvement in the attacks.

In an interview with Russian-language Israeli television Channel 9, Netanyahu was asked whether his country would operate against Iranian targets in Iraq if needed.

“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,” he responded.

In the past few weeks, Shia militia groups have been targeted at least three times.

Last week’s blasts took place inside a PMF base in the capital city of Baghdad.

At least one person was killed and about 30 others were injured.

Multiple civilians living in surrounding areas fled on foot and in vehicles as Katyusha rockets continued to land nearby.

This prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to action.

He issued a decree that mandates all armament storage facilities to be located outside cities and puts stricter measures on the use of the country’s airspace by all types of military aircraft.

Over the past decades, Iraq has been in a formal state of war with Israel.

Iraqi forces participated in the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

A decade later, in 1981, Israeli warplanes destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor called Osirak that had been built by Saddam Hussein in southeast Baghdad.

Iraq and Israel now hold no diplomatic, socio-cultural, or economic relations. 

Editing by John J.


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