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Iraq's military denies air strike took place north of Baghdad

Country's Popular Mobilisation Forces retract claim that air strikes targeting its fighters had hit a convoy of medics
Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces is an umbrella grouping of militia groups (AFP/File photo)

Editor's note: A previous version of this story had reported that US air strikes targeted a Popular Mobilisation Forces' convoy near Baghdad late on Friday, based on statements by Iraqi and PMU officials. The article has been updated to reflect that the Iraqi government denied the widespread reports that an air strike took place.

Iraq's military denied on Saturday that an air strike had taken place on a medical convoy in Taj, north of Baghdad.

Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella grouping of militia groups, had said earlier in the day that an air strike targeting its fighters had hit a convoy of medics.

However, the PMF later issued another statement saying that no medical convoys were targeted in Taj, the Reuters news agency reported.

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Iraqi state television had earlier said that US air strikes had taken place against PMU camps near the capital, about 24 hours after the US assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Before the army's denial, an Iraqi military source had told Reuters that the strikes had killed six fighters at a base in Taj.

Several media outlets, including NBC news, had reported that among those targeted was a top commander of the PMU.

A US military spokesman also said that the US-led coalition fighting in the region had not undertaken any air strikes.

"FACT: The Coalition @CJTFOIR did NOT conduct airstrikes near Camp Taji (north of Baghdad) in recent days," Colonel Myles Caggins III posted on Twitter.

Heightened US-Iran tensions

Tehran has vowed to avenge the death of Soleimani, who had reached iconic status in Iran as the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, which coordinated military activities with proxies and allies across the Middle East.

For the past week, Iraq has been a battleground amid heightened US-Iran tensions.

On 27 December, a rocket attack blamed on PMU faction Kataib Hezbollah killed an American contractor in Kirkuk. Washington responded two days later with air strikes on PMU bases that killed 25 fighters.

On Monday, PMU-backed protesters attempted to breach the US embassy in Baghdad, prompting Washington to deploy hundreds of troops to protect the diplomatic post. 

Protesters eventually left the areas surrounding the embassy, but early on Friday a US drone strike killed Soleimani - Iran's most powerful general.