Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq. A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.

Reuters August 23, 2019 04:11:33 IST
Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq.

A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.

In an interview with Russian-language Israeli television Channel 9, broadcast on Thursday, Netanyahu was asked whether Israel would operate against Iranian targets in Iraq if needed, he said:

"We are operating - not just if needed, we are operating in many areas against a state that wants to annihilate us. Of course I gave the security forces a free hand and instructed them to do anything necessary to thwart Iran's plans."

Netanyahu did not directly name Iraq as one of those areas.

Israel says it has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, some of them against Iranian targets, to prevent Teheran from establishing a permanent military presence there and to stop advanced weapons reaching its proxies in the area.

Israeli officials suggested recently they viewed Iraq, whose main ally is Iran, as more of a threat than in recent years, but have not directly commented on the recent blasts at Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) sites in Iraq.

On Wednesday, the PMF, the umbrella grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

The Pentagon denied involvement. The U.S.-led coalition, in Iraq to fight remnants of the Islamic State group, dismissed the statement.

As tensions between Washington and Tehran increase, Iraq finds itself caught between neighbouring Iran, whose regional influence has grown in recent years, and the United States.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last week ordered all ammunition dumps belonging to the armed forces or paramilitary groups to be moved outside of cities.

He also cancelled all special flight permissions for Iraqi and foreign aircraft, meaning that sorties, including by the U.S.-led coalition operating against Islamic State militants, must be cleared in advance by the prime minister.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Sonya Hepinstall)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.