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PMF flying Iranian UAV from Iraqi airbase

A still from the PMF video shows the Mohajer-6 UAV flying over Martyr Majid al-Tamimi Air Base (Camp Speicher). (Popular Mobilisation Forces)

Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) released a video on 14 June showing an Iranian-made Mohajer-6 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) taking off and circling an airbase that could be identified as the one popularly known as Camp Speicher in Salah al-Din governorate.

The Mohajer-6 was then shown using a guided bomb against a target that was about 30 km to the north, according to co-ordinates seen on the operator's screen.

Ostensibly controlled by the federal government, the PMF mostly comprises Shia militias, some backed by Iran. A Mohajer-6 was displayed on a trailer during a PMF parade held at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province in June 2020, but it was unclear how the UAV was being operated in Iraq as it needs a paved runway.

The one in the parade had a different serial number (P071A-014) from the one shown flying (P071A-022). These numbers are close to ones that have been seen on Mohajer-6s displayed by the naval arm of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) and suggest the UAVs were made in 2018–19.

Camp Speicher was the US military's name for what became Martyr Majid al-Tamimi Air Base and the location of the Iraqi Air Force's academy. It subsequently became infamous for what Iraqis call the ‘Speicher massacre' on 12 June 2014, when Islamic State militants killed hundreds of captured air force cadets, prompting the formation of the PMF a few days later to resist Sunni extremists.

The Iraqi Air Force did not re-establish a presence at the airbase after it was recaptured and is currently building a new training facility at Al-Suwayrah (previously Shaykh Mazhar) Air Base.

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