US officials have confirmed that Israel was responsible for the bombing of an alleged Iranian weapons cache in Iraq last month . The Associated Press news agency reports .
The attack marks a significant escalation in Israel's years-long campaign against what it sees as Iranian military assets in the region.
The affirmation comes when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that his country was behind recent air raids that hit bases and ammunition depots of Iranian-backed paramilitaries in Iraq-operating forces.
The mysterious attacks have not been claimed by any party and have left Iraqi officials searching for an answer, amid the strong speculation that Israel may have stood behind them.
Earlier this week, Deputy Chief of Iraqi Shiite Militias, collectively known as People's Mobilization Officers, openly accused the Israeli drones of carrying out the attacks, but ultimately blamed Washington and the perpetrators of proven retaliation for any future Attack.
Such attacks can destabilize Iraq and its fragile government, which has sought to remain neutral amid growing tensions between the US and Iran.
Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim reports from Baghdad During the recent round of air strikes, armed groups supported by Iranians have operated with full government support in Iraq since joining the ISIL fight in 201
"A new law, which came into force in July 31, calls on all paramilitary groups to contact the Iraqi security forces or lay down their weapons," Ghoneim said.
Iranian commanders killed
There have been at least three explosions in Iraqi Shiite militia bases in recent months. US officials now confirm that Israel was responsible for at least one of them.
Two US officials said Israel air-raided an Iranian weapons depot in July, killing two Iranian military commanders. The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
The July 19 attack hit a militia base in Amirli, northern Iraq's Salaheddin province, causing a massive explosion and fires.
] A high-ranking official of the then Shiite militia told the AP that the base housed advisers from Iran and Lebanon.
He said the attack targets the Advisor Headquarters and a weapons depot.
On August 12, a The massive explosion in the Al Saqr military base near Baghdad shook the capital, killing one civilian and wounding 28 others.
The base housed a weapons depot for the Iraqi Federal Police and the PMF. The latest explosion occurred Tuesday night in a munitions depot north of Baghdad.
Israel has been speculating for weeks that the army is attacking targets in Iraq.
"We act arenas in many cases & # 39;
In an interview with a Russian-speaking television station on Thursday, Netanyahu stated that the speculations are true.
"I do not give Iran immunity anywhere," he said, accusing the Iranians of trying to set up bases "everywhere against us", including Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
Asked if this means that Israel operates in Iraq, Netanyahu said: "We are acting in many arenas against a country that wants to destroy us, and of course I have given that security forces have a free hand and an order to Necessary to do to thwart these plans of Iran. "
Early on Friday, the New York Times, citing Israeli and US officials, reported that Israel had bombed an Iranian weapons warehouse in Iraq last month.
It would be the first known Israeli air raid in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli fighters destroyed a nuclear reactor built by Saddam Hussein.
This also strengthens Israel's campaign against Iranian military operations in the region.
Israel has previously recognized hundreds of air strikes on Israel Iranian targets in neighboring Syria, mainly arms deliveries destined for Iran's Hezbollah allies.
Israel sees Iran as its greatest enemy and has repeatedly vowed not to allow the Iranians supporting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to build up a permanent military presence in Syria.
The strike in Iraq would be far more complicated than reaching neighboring Syria.
The Israeli fighter planes would probably have to travel through Turkey, a former ally who now has a cool relationship with Israel or through Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes against Iraq.
Israel and the Saudis do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, but are believed to have established an all-behind-the-scenes alliance based on their common hostility towards Iran.