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Israel's Iraq strikes launched from Kurdish-held parts of Syria, backed by Saudi: Official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi carry the coffin of their comrade Kazem Mohsen, known by his nom de guerre Abu Ali al-Dabi, during his funeral procession in Najaf, Iraq, August 26, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

A senior Iraqi official says the recent Israeli drone attacks targeting a pro-government military force in the Arab country had the backing of the Saudi regime and were launched from the areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants in neighboring Syria.

The official, who has knowledge of the latest intelligence briefing from Baghdad’s security services, told the Middle East Eye news portal on Tuesday that the attacks were conducted from bases belonging to the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus alliance of mainly Kurdish militants.

“The drone attacks were launched from SDF areas with the financing and backing of the Saudis,” said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

The latest such drone attacks struck Sunday a convoy of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi near the Iraqi town of al-Qa’im close to the Syrian border.

It killed Kazem Mohsen, 45th PMU Brigade logistical support chief who was also known by his nom de guerre Abu Ali al-Dabi, and severely wounded another fighter.

The PMU said the United States was providing air support to Israel for the strikes.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iraqi source said the plan to target the PMU was hatched during a visit by Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan to the SDF-held Syrian area in June.

Sabhan, he added, offered funds to the SDF in return for their base being used as a launchpad for the strikes.

The Iraqi official also stressed that northern Syria was used to launch the attacks as Israeli drones do not have the range needed to hit targets in Iraq from the occupied territories.

“Israeli personnel were operating the drones from SDF-controlled bases,” he said.

He further noted that the Iraqis were initially skeptical of Tel Aviv's role in the attacks because of doubts about the capability of Israeli drones to reach Iraq.

The Israeli attacks began on July 19 when a drone dropped explosives onto a PMU base near the town of Amerli, in Salahuddin Province, killing at least one resistance fighter and injuring four others.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday at possible Israeli strikes in Iraq.

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