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Iraq’s Shia forces to setup air force

Image of militants raising the Iraq and Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) flag [Mahmoud Hosseini/Wikipedia]
Militants can be seen raising the Iraq and Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) flag [Mahmoud Hosseini/Wikipedia]

Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) has ordered the formation of an air force to protect the country against Israeli drone attacks.

“Based on Diwani Order No. (79) of 2014… the powers vested in us and the interest of the public attributed us to form the Air Force Directorate,” read a document signed by the PMF’s Deputy Chairman Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

Regional tensions have soared in the past few weeks as a result of Israel’s repeated strikes on what it claims to be Iranian positions in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

Late last month, the PMF – an umbrella organisation of Shia paramilitary groups – blamed Israel for an attack on its base near the Syria-Iraq border. In a statement, the PFM said that unmanned aircraft had carried out two air strikes, one of which struck the headquarters of a local paramilitary brigade, while the other struck a convoy of cars leaving the building.

This came just days after US officials confirmed that Israel was behind several air strikes across Iraq, which saw three PMF bases and an Iraqi federal police compound targeted. Though the US initially denied any knowledge of or involvement in the strikes, a senior military intelligence official claimed the strikes were conducted from within Iraq, suggesting the US had allowed Israel to launch the attacks from its bases in the country.

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