Israel Could Have Had Role in Iraq Airstrike Complicating U.S.-Iraqi Relations

The U.S. government has said that Israel possibly has a role in last month’s strike that took place north of Baghdad and took a toll on relations between Iraq and the United States, two U.S. officials said.

The strike was likely aimed at militia groups with close ties to Iran. The officials further added that the U.S. was looking into a number of different scenarios of Iran or one of its proxies retaliating with an attack of their own.

The United States has over 5,000 forces in Iraq assisting in the battle against ISIS.

The U.S. has denied any responsibility for the attack and has not said if Israel was definitely involved in it. For now, it is believed that Israel is responsible for only one of several attacks on military facilities in Iraq belonging to Iranian-backed groups in the country.

According to the two U.S. officials, the explosions may be a result of poor practices with regard to the storage of munitions and explosives. Asked if maybe Israel had any responsibility regarding the explosions, Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said, “We support Iraqi sovereignty and have repeatedly spoken out against any potential actions by neighbors that could lead to violence in Iraq. Iraqis have a right to control their own internal security ant protect their democracy.”

Following the latest incident, the Iraqi foreign minister summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires at the American Embassy in Baghdad, an Iraqi diplomat has said, adding that the relations between the two countries have been hurt by the American knowledge of the Israeli involvement in the attack.

A State Department official claimed the meeting had been scheduled previously to “discuss a variety of issues.”

Israel has not admitted to carrying out any strikes against Iran-tied targets in Iraq as it has done in Syria. The country’s prime minister has neither denied nor confirmed Israeli involvement in the series of unexplained attacks on militia sites in Iraq in recent weeks.

“We act in many arenas against a country which seeks to destroy us. Of course, I have given the security forces a free hand and the instruction to do what is needed to thwart these plans of Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

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