Local sources published conflicting reports about a major explosion at what appears to have been a weapons depot, or Al Saqar Camp, in Baghdad on the evening of August 12th, 2019. While no armed forces claimed responsibility, Israel was blamed by some as the possible culprit. Israel, in turn, claimed that Iran has begun to reinforce armed militias in Iraq as a result of increased attacks against its targets in Syria. One source blamed US aircraft for the strikes.
Sources, such as the National News, initially reported that a fire in a warehouse storing weapons and ammunition caused a series of explosions. Qasim Al Attabi, a spokesman for the district’s health directorate, stated that: “The fire ignited several rockets which struck neighbourhoods several miles away and injuring mainly children.” A security source told Reuters that the facility stored short-range and Katyusha missiles.
According to Jorf News, the explosions destroyed a garage fo heavy vehicles and large parts of Al Saqar camp, including two warehouses each about 1,000 meters in size. The source wrote that while some reported that a fire was caused by negligence and poor storage of ammunition and equiptment, and the lack of electrical insulation, others reported a drone strike.
Arab48 claimed that the targeted base belonged to the Popular Mobilization Units and had included a missile storage. The source noted that media close to the PMU had claimed the attack was carried out with surface-to-surface missiles, while others claimed that the attack was carried out with planes.
According to Masrawy News, who referred to the location as Camp Falcon, the explosion killed one person and wounded 28 others. A security source told Masrawy News that it was suspected that the explosion was indeed caused by Israeli shelling. The source added that the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had called for a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident.
Jorf News initially reported that “the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced that (13) people were injured as a result of the explosion of a warehouse of equipment inside Saqr Camp, which includes (4) brigades of the Popular Mobilization Militia, in the Abu Dashir area, south of the capital, Baghdad.”
Khabar Agency also reported that, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Saad Maan, “the explosion wounded 13 people, including two from the Federal Police and four members of the (Popular Mobilization).”
According to Al Araby, “officials in the Iraqi Police Service said that a warehouse of weapons and ammunition belonging to the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades militia, one of the Iraqi armed factions linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, south of the capital, Baghdad, was subjected to a series of explosions, which resulted in one death and wounding 29 people, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. In addition to large material losses at the headquarters and nearby homes, due to the fall of shrapnel of rockets and missiles from inside the warehouse.”
Al Jazeera News also reported that the explosion at what it called “Al Saqr camp” was caused by shelling from outside the camp, which the source claimed houses four headquarters of the PMU Brigades including the Badr Organization, Jund al-Imam, and Sayyed al-Shuhada Brigades. The source also claimed that one person was killed, with a further 30 wounded.
According to Al Jazeera, other sources claimed the explosion was caused by an airstrike by an unknown aircraft, and added that “security sources and eyewitnesses said that an unidentified aircraft carried out more than one strike on weapons stores inside the camp. The same sources ruled out that the explosion was caused by a technical fault occurred inside the stores, which used to contain large quantities of missiles and bombs belonging to factions of the Popular Mobilization Units, and their volatility led to the casualties mentioned.”
Eurabia reported that the PMF accused the US and Israel for the bombing of the facility. Adel Al Karawi, spokesman for the Ansar Allah Al Loyal Movement in the Popular Mobilization Forces stated that “the data about the outbreak of the Saqr camp fire indicate that the camp was bombed by an American aircraft loaded with missiles.”
Baghdad Today posted a video of civilians leaving their homes to rush to the site of the airstrikes.
On August 13th, Huriyat News posted a photo of Baghdad residents who were affected by the event reportedly protesting for the removal and transfer of the Al Saqar base.
The incident occured in the evening.
Sources (32) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention Al Saqar Base (قاعدة الصقر), for which the generic coordinates are: 33.211872, 44.370779. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.