Iraqi PM says Israel is responsible for attacks on Iraqi militias (Al Jazeera)

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi makes a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 3, 2019. REUTERS / Philippe Wojazer / Pool

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi accused Israel of being behind attacks on Iranian-backed militia positions in Iraq, the first time Baghdad has directly blamed Israel, reported Monday Al Jazeera television.

“Investigations into the targeting of certain positions of the Popular Mobilization Forces indicate that Israel executed him,” Al Jazeera said, quoting Abdul Mahdi.

Shiite militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, have repeatedly blamed Israel for raids by unmanned planes on their bases and weapons depots, including at least two incidents in which fighters were killed . The United States provided air support, they say.

An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the Iraqi prime minister’s remarks, saying “these are foreign media reports and we do not comment on them.”

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted last month about possible Israeli involvement. Israel says it has carried out hundreds of strikes in neighboring Syria, some against Iranian targets, to prevent Tehran from establishing a permanent military presence there.

The Pentagon has denied that US forces were involved in attacks on Shiite militias in Iraq.

Abdul Mahdi, who visited Saudi Arabia last week, also told Al Jazeera he believed the kingdom was seeking peace, referring to increased friction between Riyadh and Tehran following an attack on Saudi oil installations for which Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed Iran.

Solving the crisis in Yemen could be the key to solving the problems in the Gulf, Abdul Mahdi said. Saudi Arabia, which backs the internationally recognized Yemeni government, is engaged in a war against the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in the country. Iran and Saudi Arabia are ready to negotiate, Abdul Mahdi said.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Hadeel Al Sayegh, Lisa Barington in Dubai and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Written by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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