JERUSALEM, Israel – Senior US officials told The New York Times Thursday that Israel is behind the recent bombings of Iranian-backed military targets in Iraq, confirming suspicions that Israel was responsible for a widely-reported attack on Iranian forces north of Baghdad on July 19.
The two officials told The Times that Israel is behind "several strikes in recent days on munitions storehouses for Iranian-backed groups in Iraq."
They also confirmed reports that Israel attacked a base used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to transport weapons to Syria on July 19. Arab media reported at the time that Israeli F-35i stealth fighter jets attacked the base shortly after Iran had secretly delivered ballistic missiles. One US official said those missiles had a range of 125 miles.
An Iraqi military official confirmed that a base had been hit and the attack killed three people - including an Iranian national, the report said.
Although Israel has never confirmed reports about its operations in Iraq, when asked by an Israeli journalist on Thursday if Israel was striking targets in Iraq, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We're acting not only if necessary, we're acting in very many theaters against a state that seeks to annihilate us. Obviously, I've given the security forces the order and the operational freedom to do what is necessary in order to disrupt these plots by Iran."
A senior US official quoted by The New York Times said Israel was "pushing the limits" with the strikes in Iraq and risk "getting the United States military removed from Iraq."
On Wednesday, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which is an umbrella organization for Iraq's majority Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, blamed the US and Israel for strikes on their weapons depots and bases.
They said the US had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying US forces to carry out an attack on Iraqi territory.
The Pentagon denied any involvement. The US-led coalition fighting the remnants of ISIS in Iraq also dismissed the PMF statement.
Iraq finds itself on fragile ground while trying to manage its alliances with both the United States as tensions between the two countries increase.