Investigation underway

Explosion at Kalsu military base in Babil kills one, injures eight

BABIL — An explosion at the Kalsu military base in Babil early Saturday resulted in one fatality and injuries to at least eight others, according to officials. The base is utilized by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as the Hashd Al-Shaabi.

A strategic site located between Baghdad and Basra, the base houses units from the Iraqi army and various brigades of the PMF, including Saraya Al-Jihad. The facility was formerly a U.S. military installation before being handed over to Iraqi authorities in 2011.

According to an official PMF statement, the explosion and a subsequent fire resulted in material losses in addition to human casualties. Details on the extent of the damage were unclear at the time of reporting.

Iraqi officials initiated an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, which hit equipment stored in warehouses at the base. The Security Media Cell issued a statement that said no drones or aircraft were detected in the airspace surrounding Babil at the time of the explosion.

Tensions in the region have hit a critical point in recent weeks with Iran and Israel engaged in an exchange of attacks, the latest involving a series of strikes on the Iranian cities of Esfahan and Tabriz on April 19.

The PMF’s press office in Babil, however, alleged Saturday’s explosions resulted from a U.S. strike targeting militias at the base.

The U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) addressed the allegations in a post to X stating: “We are aware of reports claiming that the United States conducted airstrikes in Iraq today. Those reports are not true. The United States has not conducted air strikes in Iraq today.”

AFP contributed to this report.