Russia, U.S. agree Israel can strike Iranian targets in Iraq - report

Western sources: Strikes are "vital to ensure Israeli security"

 A man glances at a rocket that flew away from an Iraqi militia group's weapons depot after it caught fire, in Baghdad, Iraq, August 13, 2019 (photo credit: KHALID AL MOUSILY / REUTERS)
A man glances at a rocket that flew away from an Iraqi militia group's weapons depot after it caught fire, in Baghdad, Iraq, August 13, 2019
Israel has struck Iranian targets in Iraq at least three times over the past few weeks after Russia and the United States gave the green light, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.
According to Western sources, Moscow and Washington have agreed that Israel’s strikes in Iraq and Syria are “vital to ensure Israeli security” and that Israel should be allowed to continue tracking Iranian activity in Syria and Iraq, and strike Iranian targets that could pose a threat to Israel, such as long-range and precision missiles.
Israel has warned repeatedly that it will not allow an Iranian presence in Syria, and has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes, preventing the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah that included surface-to-air missile kits.
On Tuesday, explosions rocked an arms depot belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) near Balad air base some 80 km. north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The PMF – militias incorporated into Iraq’s security apparatus in 2016 to fight against slamic State along with Iraqi and Kurdish forces – are directly financed and equipped by Iran.
According to a report from Al Arabiya, the target of the strikes were missiles which had been recently transferred to Iraq. Sky News Arabia reported that at least 50 missiles were destroyed in the strike.
Last week, a strike targeted another munitions depot southwest of Baghdad that belonged to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, killing one civilian and injuring 13 others.
An assessment by ImageSat International (ISI) released last week stated that the warehouse, which measured 140 by 180 meters, belonged to the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) militia and was located in the Iraqi Al-Saqr military base.
“The main building is destroyed, with significant collateral damage signs,” ISI said, adding that, “based on the observed damage characteristics in this image, it is probable that the blast was caused by an airstrike followed by secondary explosions of the explosives stored in the place.”
Last month, an explosion rocked another military base in Amerli, in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province, killing two people.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi banned unauthorized flights last week and ordered all military bases and munitions warehouse to be moved away from cities in response to the alleged strikes. He also ordered an investigation into the strikes.
Israeli officials have warned that Iran is attempting to entrench itself in Iraq – a mainly Shi’ite country – as it did in Syria, where it has established and consolidated a parallel security structure. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at Israel’s role in the strikes, saying that “Iran has no immunity, anywhere.”
In September, Reuters reported that Iran had transferred ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq over the course of several months, and that it is developing the capacity to build more there. The missiles that were said to have been transferred include the Fateh-110 – the Zolfaqar and Zelzal types – which have ranges of 200-700 km., allowing them to threaten both Saudi Arabia and Israel.