The exact cause of Monday night's explosion at the al-Saqr military base is still unknown. The blast shook the Iraqi capital and sent explosives and mortar shells shooting into the sky, damaging nearby homes and terrifying residents who ran into the streets with their cellphones. Black smoke billowed over the city for hours afterward.
The federal police base houses a weapons depot belonging to a militia group under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The state-sanctioned PMF militias have fought alongside Iraq’s regular armed forces against the Islamic State group.
Some officials blamed the explosion at the base, also known as Falcon Camp, on faulty storage that caused overheating amid typically high temperatures in Baghdad. But the blast has also given rise to a host of theories, including that Israel may have conducted an airstrike.