According to a report published by The New York Times on Thursday, “Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets” on December 27 on the base that houses US and Iraqi forces near the northern city of Kirkuk.
The officials said “they believe it is unlikely” that Kata'ib Hezbollah, a subdivision of the PMU anti-terror forces, known as Hashd al-Sha'abi in Arabic -- which the US has blamed for the attack -- “carried it out,” the newspaper wrote.
Two days later, the US said it had targeted weapons caches or command and control facilities linked to Kata'ib Hezbollah in western Iraq, as well as eastern Syria with airstrikes.
The PMU said afterwards that as many as 25 of its fighters had died in the strikes, vowing to avenge the “aggression of evil American ravens.”
The deadly US raids sparked angry protests in front of the US Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, with demonstrators calling for the expulsion of all Washington-led forces from the Arab country.
The Iraqi officials cited by the paper said they had doubts whether the PMU offshoot staged the attack “based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place.”
The area used for launching the rockets is notorious for Daesh attacks, they said. The outfit would normally try to keep PMU fighters off the areas that it wants for its turf given its signature way of confronting all those who do not subscribe to its radical ideology, the officials added.
“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” said Brig. General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at K-1. “I told you about the three incidents in the days just before in the area — we know Daesh’s movements.”