BAGHDAD - Iraqi paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel, a statement said.
The statement from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella grouping of Iraq's paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.
"We announce that the first and last entity responsible for what happened are the American forces, and we will hold them responsible for whatever happens from today onwards," the statement, attributed to senior PMF commander Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes.
The statement said it would defend itself against any attacks on paramilitary bases, including using "advanced weaponr." It did not elaborate.
The statement comes hours after the London-based, Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that Israel has attacked Iranian targets in Iraq at least three times in the past few weeks as part of “understandings” reached with the United States and Russia.
According to the paper, which cites Western diplomatic sources, the strikes targeted missile warehouses of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It was one of a series of explosions in recent weeks at weapons depots, bases or positions belonging to Iran-backed military groups in the country.
The PMF statement came a day after several blasts hit a position held by a PMF group next to Balad air base north of Baghdad.
It was one of a series of explosions in recent weeks at weapons depots, bases or positions belonging to factions within the PMF.
The U.S.-led coalition, in Iraq to fight Islamic State, dismissed the PMF statement.
"The mission of CJTF-OIR in Iraq is solely to enable our Iraqi Security Force partners in the mission of an enduring defeat of Daesh. We operate in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq and comply with their laws and direction," it said, using an alternative name for Islamic State.