Iran’s Zarif accuses Israel of airstrikes in Iraq

These rare comments from an Iranian official blaming Israel for airstrikes in Iraq appear to be made in haste because he did not elaborate

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September 24, 2019 23:40
2 minute read.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Thursday any U.S. or Saudi military strike against Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Thursday any U.S. or Saudi military strike against Iran would result in "all-out war". (photo credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes in Iraq during an interview on Sunday. On CBS’s Face the Nation, he was asked about Iranian support for “militias in Iraq,” and Zarif said, according to the transcript, that Israel has been “attacking parts of [the] Iraqi military.”

These rare comments from an Iranian official blaming Israel for airstrikes in Iraq appear to have been made in haste because he did not elaborate. Over the last two months, Israel has been accused in local Arabic media of several airstrikes across Iraq and near the Syrian border town of Al Bukamal. Iranian-backed political and paramilitary groups in Iraq have held the US and Israel responsible for mysterious explosions at munition warehouses of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a group of mostly Shi’ite militias. The group is controversial because some in Iraq see them as sectarian and outgrowing their initial use against ISIS.

“We support the government of Iraq,” Zarif said. “These militias that you talk about are part of the Iraqi government. The Israelis are attacking parts of Iraqi military, official military.”

Zarif’s Iraq comment came as he was being questioned by Margaret Brennan about whether the September 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq came from Iran. He said they didn’t come from Iran, so he was pressed on whether they came from Iranian-backed groups in places like Iraq.

“No, they were not launched from Iraq by any Iranian-backed group or by any group,” Zarif said.

These comments appear to be the first time the Iranian foreign minister has commented at length suggesting Israeli attacks targeted Iraq. Militias in Iraq report almost weekly mysterious drone attacks, including an attack on September 22 and others over the last weeks.

The largest attacks occurred at Al Bukamal on September 9, and across Iraq at Camp Falcon, Camp Amerli, near Balad Air Base and at Camp Ashraf. Recent reports of strikes have often been denied by the militias themselves. However, in Baghdad, there has been concern about the presence of unregulated munitions warehouses and attempts to transfer ordnance to official bases. This has also led to controversies within the PMF, as its deputy commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis suggested that the group needs its own air force to defend itself against the mysterious attacks. Zarif may have commented abruptly and without permission from Tehran about the Iraqi incidents.


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