US military investigating claim of Iraq-Kuwait border blast

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. military said Tuesday it was investigating a militant claim by a newly formed Iraqi Shiite militant group of a bombing at the Iraq-Kuwait border.

A group, called Ashab al-Kahf, issued a statement overnight claiming 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 clip 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, with a man speaking in Arabic. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the video.

U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a Central Command spokesman, said the American military was looking into reports of the explosion.

The Kuwaiti military in statement carried by the state-run KUNA news agency said it “denied reports about a sabotage attack on a northern border post.” The statement did not elaborate.

Kuwait has been a staunch U.S. ally since the 1991 Gulf War expelled the occupying Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein. Today, Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, many at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City, which is also home to the forward command of U.S. Army Central.

American troops and contractors sometimes travel by road with equipment and supplies between the two countries.

Ashab al-Kahf means “Companions of the Cave” in Arabic, referring to a Christian and Islamic story about youths escaping religious persecution hiding in a cave for hundreds of years.

The group has emerged alongside renewed threats by Shiite militias amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. 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 SITE Intelligence Group has referred to Ashab al-Kahf as “reportedly an Iranian proxy unit.” The group initially threatened U.S. forces in April and claimed an attack on a convoy in July.

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