Drone targets base of Iran-backed militia in northern Iraq

Iraqi security officials announced Friday that an unmanned drone dropped explosives on a base belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary forces in northern Iraq, wounding two people.

The incident occurred amid regional tensions between the United States and Iran.

The statement said the drone dropped two grenades half an hour apart on the base in Amirli, in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province, early Friday. No further details were provided.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the reported attacks, although Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militias blamed the Islamic State group for initiating the assaults.

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Destroyed buildings are seen in the city of Ramadi, January 16, 2016. Baghdad and Washington have touted Ramadi as the first major success for Iraq's U.S.-backed army since it collapsed in the face of the Islamic State's lightning advance across the country's north and west in mid-2014.  Picture taken January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani - GF20000098966

Destroyed buildings are seen in the city of Ramadi, January 16, 2016. Baghdad and Washington have touted Ramadi as the first major success for Iraq's U.S.-backed army since it collapsed in the face of the Islamic State's lightning advance across the country's north and west in mid-2014.  Picture taken January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani - GF20000098966

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An anonymous senior official with the militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, said the attack resulted in two wounded Iranians and struck a base that housed advisers from Iran and Lebanon. The first attack targeted the headquarters of the advisers, while the second hit a weapons depot, causing a large fire at the base.

A Pentagon official denied U.S. involvement. An anonymous Iraqi spokesperson said IS militants were most likely behind the attack, ruling out a U.S.-led coalition.

“We are aware of open source reports of possible aggressive actions against a Popular Mobilization Force unit in Salah ad Din,” said Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson. “U.S. forces were not involved. We have no further information about this report.”

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Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have left Iraq’s government, which is allied with both sides, in a sensitive position. Iraq is home to U.S. bases and more than 5,000 U.S. troops, as well as dozens of Iran-supported militias who fought against IS militants alongside Iraqi government troops.

Baghdad declared victory over the Islamic State in December 2017, after the last urban battle had been won following years-long conflicts that left its cities in ruins. IS, however, which has used drones in its attacks in the past, is still waging a low-level insurgency, particularly in rural areas.

Fox News' Morgan Cheung and the Associated Press contributed to this report.