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Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi forces shoot down spy drone over Baghdad

This file photo purportedly shows an Israeli drone.

Iraq's pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, says it has shot down an unidentified spy drone over capital Baghdad.

According to a statement by the PMU, carried by the Arabic-language al-Soumariah television network, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down “by the air defenses of the 12th Brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi” while the reconnaissance aircraft was flying over the outskirts of the capital on Thursday evening.

Earlier in the day, senior Iraqi cleric Ammar al-Hakim called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to adopt effective measures aimed at defending the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the wake of strong indications that the US and Israel were involved in recent attacks on PMU’s positions.

On Wednesday, second-in-command of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, also blamed the US and Israel for recent explosions at the group’s bases in the Arab country.

“We have evidence that shows the US has brought four Israeli drones into Iraq,” he said, adding, the Americans "are using the drones to target the PMU and Iraqi bases, rather than targeting the Daesh” terrorist group.

Mohandes also vowed that “from now on we will target any drone flying over our bases.”

On Tuesday, a number of powerful blasts rocked a position held by the PMU, next to strategic Balad airbase, which hosts US forces and contractors and is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

Hashd al-Sha’abi commanders also confirmed that the intended target of the blasts was the group’s position near the Balad base.

On August 13, Fadhil Abu Ragheef, a security expert close to Iraqi intelligence services, told Russia's RT Arabic television news network there was information that the Israeli military was planning to launch airstrikes against the arms depots of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces.

On July 19, a drone dropped explosives on a PMU base near the town of Amerli, located about 170 kilometers north of the capital, killing at least one PMU fighter and wounding four others.

Video footage broadcast by Iraqi channels showed a blaze burning at the site and plumes of thick smoke billowing. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli regime has a record of attacking the forces fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in neighboring Syria.

In June 2018, Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters came under attack in Syria’s border town of al-Hari, in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, as they were chasing Daesh terrorists out of the area.

Both the Syrian government and Hashd al-Sha’abi declared back then that the attack near the Iraqi-Syrian border had been deliberate and could only have been carried out by either Israel or the United States.

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