Iran’s IRGC claims responsibility for ballistic missiles that targeted US consulate in Iraq’s Kurdish capital

erbil-airport
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. ( IRGC) claimed responsibility for a dozen ballistic that struck Iraq’s northern city of Irbil on Sunday near the U.S. consulate. A U.S. official called it an “outrageous attack” but said no Americans were hurt
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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. ( IRGC) claimed responsibility for a dozen ballistic missiles that struck Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Irbil in the early hours of Sunday, Iran’s state media reported, adding that the attack was against Israeli “strategic centers” in Irbil.

The missile attack comes as talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal face the prospect of collapse after a last-minute Russian demand forced world powers to pause negotiations for an undetermined time despite having a largely completed text.

The missiles, which targeted the U.S. consulate’s new building, caused only material damage and one civilian was injured, the Kurdish interior ministry said. An Iraqi security official told Reuters that the missiles were manufactured in Iran.

“Any repetition of attacks by Israel will be met with a harsh, decisive and destructive response,” the Revolutionary Guard said in a statement reported by state media. 

A U.S. official blamed Iran for the attack earlier on Sunday but did not give further details. Iranian officials have yet to comment. 

Separately, U.S. State Department spokesperson called it an “outrageous attack” but said no Americans were hurt and there was no damage to U.S. government facilities in Irbil. 

U.S. forces stationed at Irbil’s international airport complex have in the past come under fire from rocket and drone attacks that Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but no such attacks have occurred for several months.

“It’s premature to point finger of blame at specific party but initial reports show indisputably that it was a cross-border short range missile attack,” an Iraqi security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

“Parts of the fired missiles were retrieved and it was manufactured by Iran,” he said.

In another sign of increased regional tensions, Iran also suspended on Sunday a fifth round of talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia that were due to take place in Baghdad on Wednesday.

The last time ballistic missiles were directed at U.S. forces was in January 2020 – an Iranian retaliation for the U.S. killing earlier that month of its military commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport.

No U.S. personnel were killed in the 2020 attack but many suffered head injuries.

Iraq and neighboring Syria are regularly the scene of violence between the United States and Iran. Iran-backed Shi’ite Islamist militias have attacked U.S. forces in both countries and Washington has on occasion retaliated with air strikes.

An Israeli air strike in Syria on Monday killed two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iranian state media said this week. The IRGC vowed to retaliate, it said.

Kurdish officials did not immediately say where the missiles struck. A spokesperson for the regional authorities said there were no flight interruptions at Irbil airport.

Residents of Irbil posted videos online showing several large explosions, and some said the blasts shook their homes. Reuters could not independently verify those videos.

Iraq has been rocked by chronic instability since the defeat of the Sunni Islamist group Islamic State in 2017 by a loose coalition of Iraqi, U.S.-led and Iran-backed forces.

Since then, Iran-aligned militias have regularly attacked U.S. military and diplomatic sites in Iraq, U.S. and many Iraqi officials say. Iran denies involvement in those attacks.

Domestic politics has also fueled violence. Iraqi political parties, most of which have armed wings, are currently in tense talks over forming a government after an election in October. Shi’ite militia groups close to Iran warn in private that they will resort to violence if they are left out of any ruling coalition.

The chief political foes of those groups include their powerful Shi’ite rival, the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has vowed to form a government that leaves out Iran’s allies and includes Kurds and Sunnis.

CNBC

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