ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A massive fire broke out on Friday evening at a weapons and ammunition warehouse belonging to an Iranian-backed militia near the holy Iraqi city of Karbala.
The blaze, which was followed by multiple consecutive explosions, took place in a facility belonging to the al-Abbas Division, a prominent militia in the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The militia said in a statement posted on their website shortly after the fire that one of its “imaginary” warehouses had been “targeted.”
“Two planes were spotted over the location of the incident, and official bodies confirm they are unfriendly,” the group claimed, while offering no details on how the unnamed "official body" had concluded that the attacking force was "unfriendly," beyond the fact that it had allegedly conducted an air strike.
A witness told Kurdistan 24 that the incident occurred on the Sharia road, northwest of Karbala city.
No government statements have been made regarding casualties, but the Iranian News Agency Tasnim reported the incident as an "explosion" and claimed that 12 people had been killed.
This is the third such incident at warehouses belonging to PMF forces in the Karbala area in the past two weeks, the first occurring on Aug. 06 and the second four days later.
In previous statements, groups have said warehouse explosions were a “hostile action” aimed at destroying their weapons infrastructure.
Explosions or fires at munitions warehouses in Iraq, of which there have been several this summer, are typically the result of poor storage practices combined with high seasonal temperatures.
Editing by John J. Catherine