Iraqi militias bombed by unmanned planes, one dead: security sources

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – An unmanned plane dropped explosives on Friday at a base belonging to Iranian-linked Shia paramilitary groups in northern Iraq, killing at least one, military and paramilitary sources said.

The Iraqi military said in a statement that a drone dropped a grenade on the base in northern Salahuddin province, injuring at least two people, but gave no further details.

Paramilitary sources in the area and a Baghdad-based paramilitary leader said one person was killed in the attack, which took place early Friday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A security source said two explosions hit the base, one aimed at an ammunition depot belonging to an Iranian-backed group.

The Pentagon has denied that US forces were involved in the attack, after at least one Saudi Arabia-based news channel reported US strikes on the base.

The incident took place amid heightened tension between the United States and Iran.

Iraq is seen as a potential arena for any violent regional confrontation between the two enemies due to the presence of Iranian-backed Shia Muslim paramilitary groups operating near bases hosting US forces.

ISIS militants, also enemies of the Shiite paramilitaries, are operating in the area where the base is located and in many remote areas of northern Iraq, although the group has lost its grip on the territory.

He claimed responsibility for attacks on Iraqi forces in recent months.

Several Iraqi bases housing US forces were hit by several rockets a few weeks ago in unclaimed attacks in which no one was injured.

Washington is pressuring the Iraqi government to curb Iranian-backed paramilitary groups which it believes pose a threat to US interests in Iraq.

The United States accused Iran of attacking several oil tankers in the Gulf. Tehran denies any involvement.

Reporting by John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed, Ghazwan Hassan in Tikrit and Ali Sultan in Sulaimaniya; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry

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