US says blast hits Iraq convoy, border attack claim false
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An explosion targeted a U.S.-led coalition convoy in Iraq on Tuesday and caused no casualties, just hours after a newly formed Shiite militant group falsely claimed bombing a similar convoy at the Iraq-Kuwait border, the American military said.
The little-known Ashab al-Kahf group claimed in an overnight statement it destroyed “equipment and vehicles belonging to the American enemy” in a bombing targeting a border crossing south of the Iraqi city of Basra.
The group later published an 11-second video it claimed showed the blast, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups. The out-of-focus video shows what appeared to be an explosion and lights in the distance but The Associated Press could not verify the video.
The Iraqi and Kuwait militaries both denied any attack occurred. U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III similarly dismissed the claim.
“It’s absolutely false,” Caggins told the AP. “It was a complete fabrication.”
There was, however, an explosion that targeted a coalition convoy on Tuesday in the Taji area, north of Baghdad, the Iraqi military said. The attack damaged a truck and caused no injuries, Caggins said. No one claimed responsibility for that attack.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and the later war against the Islamic State group, American troops and contractors sometimes travel by road with equipment and supplies between Iraq and Kuwait.
Ashab al-Kahf, or “Companions of the Cave” in Arabic — a reference to a Christian and Islamic story about youths escaping religious persecution by hiding in a cave for hundreds of years — emerged alongside renewed threats by Shiite militias amid rising U.S.-Iran tensions.
In January, an American drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack that wounded dozens of American troops at a military base in Iraq.
The Ashab al-Kahf initially threatened U.S. forces in April and claimed an attack on a convoy in July in Iraq’s Salaheddin province. On Aug. 9, another explosion targeted a convoy in the southern Dhi Qar province, reportedly causing minor damage.
Associated Press writer Samya Kullab in Istanbul contributed to this report.