New explosion rocks arms depot north of Iraqi capital

Iraqi security officials say a large explosion has hit an arms depot belonging to an Iranian-backed militia faction north of Baghdad

Last week, a massive explosion at a munitions depot southwest of Baghdad killed one civilian and wounded 13 others. The exact cause for the blast, which terrified residents and damaged nearby homes, is still unknown although some officials blamed it on faulty storage.

Last month, an explosion took place at a base in Amirli, in Iraq's northern Salaheddin province, killing two Iranians and causing a huge fire. That attack was blamed on an unmanned drone that dropped explosives, with some Shiite militias blaming it on the Islamic State group.

In response to the explosions, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi last week banned unauthorized flights throughout the country and ordered all military camps and munitions warehouses to be moved outside Iraqi cities. He ordered an urgent investigation into the explosions, whose results he said should be concluded within a week.

No one has claimed responsibility for those explosions or Tuesday's blast near the Balad air base in Salaheddin province, which sent smoke billowing from the area.

The officials who confirmed the explosion spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

They said the blast occurred in a depot belonging to the PMF and that an investigation was underway.

The Iraqi Civil Defense said in a statement that the blast occurred near Balad air base, one of the country's largest, which is home to U.S. trainers and is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad. It said its members were trying to control a fire caused by the blast.

A Shiite militia group is stationed nearby.

The mysterious blasts have given rise to a host of theories, including that Israel may have conducted an airstrike.

However, neither the Iraqi government nor Israel have addressed the reports.