It happened on Aug. 20 at about 6:00 p.m. The armories at an air force base in the Salah ad-Din district just north of Baghdad started blowing up. Eyewitnesses say there was a powerful initial explosion followed by a long series of smaller explosions, indicating that the site was used to store munitions or missiles. Though the base officially belongs to the Iraqi army, it was rented out to an armed Shiite militia supported and funded by Iran. As of July 19, this was the fourth or fifth mysterious attack against munitions and logistics bases used by armed Shiite militias subject to Iran but operating in Iraqi territory. The foreign media attributed these attacks to Israel, though as of yet, there is very little information about them. In one case, it was reported that an Israeli F-35 stealth bomber was responsible for the attack; in the other cases, the attacks were allegedly launched by unmanned aircraft or even a midrange missile.
On Aug. 18, just two days before this week’s attack, it seemed as if the Iranians had enough. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami made a bold announcement: “Fortifying Iraq’s defense power is one of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s main strategies.” He went on to say that his country will not let anyone turn Iraq into another Syria. He also promised to upgrade the Iraqi army’s military capabilities so that it can contend with aerial assaults. This implied threat, directed at Israel, did not seem to impress decision-makers in Jerusalem or whoever was behind this mysterious wave of attacks. The aforementioned attack that took place two days after the defense minister’s remarks proved that Iraq is steadily becoming an updated version of the Syrian model. Foreign forces attack targets there methodically and do whatever they want.