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Explosion hits US-led coalition convoy north of Baghdad

Coalition spokesperson denies earlier report of blast near Kuwaiti border
Iraqi soldiers take part in a training session instructed by US and Iraqi military trainers at the Taji base complex (AFP)

An explosion has struck a US-led coalition convoy in Iraq, north of the capital Baghdad.

According to the government's Security Media Cell, an improvised explosive device targeted the vehicles of an Iraqi contractor company transporting coalition equipment near Taji on Tuesday.

Although there were no casualties, one container within the convoy was reported as having caught fire, the Iraqi military said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

The coalition also denied that a convoy near the border with Kuwait had been struck on Monday, despite reports quoting security sources.

Tuesday's explosion is the latest in a string of such incidents in recent weeks. An attack in southern Iraq on Sunday hit a convoy carrying supplies to coalition forces, the military said.

Soleimani revenge

Several thousand US forces are still based in Iraq, leading a coalition whose mission is to fight the Islamic State group.

Those forces are also a target for Iran-backed militias, which the US blames for regular rocket attacks on bases hosting the coalition, and on other US targets such as Washington's embassy in Baghdad.

The militias have vowed to avenge the death of paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed alongside top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in the capital in January.

Political forces aligned with the militias are demanding a full withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

They also oppose Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May. He is viewed as being friendly with the United States and has challenged the power of Iran-aligned armed groups in Iraq.

Little known group

The explosion on Monday night near the Jraischan border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait targeted a convoy carrying equipment for US forces, three sources from different branches of Iraq's security services and military said.

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The Iraqi military denied that the incident took place.

Kuwait's military on Twitter also denied any attack along its border with Iraq.

Vehicles are regularly loaded with military equipment at the crossing, the security sources said, and cargo is usually loaded or unloaded before entering or exiting Iraq.

Foreign companies are contracted by US forces to provide security in the area, security sources said.

A little known Iraqi militia group by the name of Ashab al-Kahf claimed responsibility for the attack and published a video showing an explosion at a distance.

It said it had been able to destroy US military equipment and large parts of the crossing.