Israel has carried out an airstrike on a weapons depot in Iraq that officials said was being used by Iran to move weapons to Syria, an attack that could destabilize Iraq and thrust it deeper into the conflict between the United States and Iran.
The attack, believed to be the first Israeli bombing in Iraq in nearly four decades, represents an expansion of the military campaign Israel has carried out against Iranian targets in Syria.
The Israeli attack last month was one of several recent attacks on weapons storage facilities controlled by Iraqi militias with ties to Iran. It was not clear who carried out the other attacks, which have set Iraq on edge as it struggles to recover from nearly 40 years of war and instability.
Responding to the attacks on Thursday, Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih al-Fayadh, said that Iraq wanted to avoid taking sides in any struggle between Iran and other countries and being “pushed into a war.”
“The Iraqi government and especially its security agencies and armed forces will take all measures necessary to protect Iraq and its people and to deter any attempts at destabilization,” he said.
He said the government had yet to determine who was behind the attacks.
A senior Middle Eastern intelligence official said that Israel had bombed a base north of Baghdad on July 19.
Two senior American officials, however, said that Israel had carried out several strikes in recent days on munitions storehouses for Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jamal Jaafar Al-Ibrahim, the deputy chief of the Iraqi militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces, blamed “American and Israeli aircraft” for carrying out “repeated attacks” on the groups’ local headquarters.
The Israeli military refused to comment on the attacks but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asked about them on a visit to Kiev, Ukraine on Monday, said “Iran doesn’t have immunity anywhere.”
“A state that says, ‘We are going to destroy you and we will build bases to fire missiles and to send terrorist cells against you’ — as far as I’m concerned, has no immunity,” he told reporters. “We will act — and currently are acting — against them, wherever it is necessary.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/worl ... w7C2NQVL1m