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Iraq: explosion at militia arms depot 

Iraqi security forces stop on a road behind smoke following a car bomb explosion on November 1, 2017 [MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP via Getty Images]
Iraqi security forces stop on a road behind smoke following a car bomb explosion on November 1, 2017 [MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP via Getty Images]

An explosion has rocked an arms depot belonging to a faction of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), security sources have revealed. According to a report in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed citing local media, "An explosion occurred and a fire broke out in a warehouse of equipment and missiles, affiliated with the Iranian-backed Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq militia, in the Al-Suwaira area in the Wasit governorate in the south of the country."

The report added that nature of the explosion and its causes have not yet been determined. No casualties were reported.

Sabreen News added on Telegram that, "The accident was caused by a fire in one of the underground stores of weapons and equipment, a concrete warehouse belonging to the Popular Mobilisation [Forces] which erupted due to heat."

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The incident is the fourth of its kind in under a month. In August, at least five people were killed in a blast at a military base outside Najaf, said to be run by Saraya Al-Salam, which is affiliated with the influential Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and also operates under the PMF umbrella. High temperatures in Iraq around this time of year in excess of 40 degrees can cause explosives to be unstable.

On 11 August, two buildings belonging to the PMF faction Al-Nujaba located in residential areas north and south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, were also hit by explosions.

Today's incident comes days after the leader of Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, Qais Al-Khazali, decided to close the militia's offices across Iraq, amid the political stalemate in the country and recent deadly clashes between followers of Al-Sadr and Iran-aligned Shia parties and paramilitary groups.

There have previous calls for militias to disarm and for all weapons to be brought under state control, despite the PMF being integrated within Iraq's armed forces. The latest explosion will raise concerns about the safety of munitions and those in charge of them.

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