Regional experts had immediately suspected the possibility of an Israeli air raid after a pro-Iranian militia arms depot in Iraq was obliterated during a mysterious attack on July 19, and another reported follow-up attack this past Sunday.
The attack happened around 80 km from the Iranian border and 40 km north-east of Baghdad at Camp Ashraf, former home to the Iranian exile group Mojahedin-e Khalq, but now reportedly in the hands of Iranian intelligence and paramilitaries.
Speculation was rampant in the days that followed as to the source of the 'mysterious' air strikes - or what was also initially reported as a drone strike - however, some pointed the finger at an American operation targeting Iranian militants inside Iraq.
But now Israeli and regional media, citing western diplomats, have confirmed it was a nearly unprecedented Israeli operation on Iraqi soil — representing a major escalation and expansion of Israel's anti-Iran operations.
Israel reportedly launched a total of two separate air strike operations on the camp using its US-supplied F-35 stealth fighter jets.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
Israel has expanded the scope of its anti-Iranian attacks and struck targets in Iraq, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Tuesday.
According to the report, which cites anonymous Western diplomats, Israel struck Iranian warehouses storing arms and missiles at Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad, twice in the past month.
On July 19, the base was struck by an Israeli F-35 fighter jet, the sources added. The base was allegedly attacked again on Sunday.
The report alleges the primary target included a shipment of Iranian ballistic missiles which recently entered Iraq via the nearby Iranian border.
And though not confirmed, the report further claimed that "Iranian advisers" had been injured in the series of airstrikes.
Israel has over the past couple of years conducted "hundreds" of attacks inside Syria, which defense officials have claimed were primarily against Iranian and Hezbollah bases, but if this month's air strikes on Camp Ashraf are confirmed Israeli assaults, it would constitute a major widening in terms of the scope of Tel Aviv's "anti-Iran" targeting operations.
The news is also sure to enrage officials in Baghdad, who will mount protests defending Iraqi sovereignty. Israel hasn't mounted a known significant attack on Iraqi soil since the days of former dictator Saddam Hussein.