Iran strikes targets in northern Iraq and Syria as regional tensions escalate

AP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Jan 2024

Iran fired missiles late Monday at what it said was Israeli “spy headquarters” near the U.S. Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, and at targets linked to the extremist group Islamic State in northern Syria.

A picture shows a view of a damaged building following a missile strike launched by Iran s Revolutio
A picture shows a view of a damaged building following a missile strike launched by Iran s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Kurdistan Region s capital of Arbil. AFP

 

Four civilians were killed and six injured after missiles hit an upscale area near the consulate in Irbil, the seat of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, according to the security council of the Kurdish regional government.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said in a statement that it had hit a headquarters of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Another statement said it had fired a number of ballistic missiles at “terrorist operations," including Islamic State targets, in Syria and destroyed them.

Israel did not immediately acknowledge the attack in Irbil and its embassy in Washington did not return a request for comment on the Iranian allegation regarding the Mossad.

The strikes come at a time of heightened tensions in the region and fears of a wider spillover of the ongoing war in Gaza.

“In response to the recent atrocities of the Zionist regime, causing the killing of commanders of the Guards and the Axis of Resistance … one of the main Mossad espionage headquarters in Iraq’s Kurdistan region was destroyed with ballistic missiles,” the IRGC said in a statement.

“We assure our nation the Guards’ offensive operations will continue until avenging the last drops of martyrs’ blood.”

Iran said it acted in defence of its sovereignty and security as well as to counter terrorism.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Tehran “respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries.”

But at the same time it is using its “legitimate and legal right to deter national security threats.”

“After the enemy miscalculated by targeting the Islamic Republic, Iran retaliated with its high intelligence capability in a precise and targeted operation against the culprits’ headquarters,” Kanaani said.

The United States condemns “Iran's reckless missile strikes” in Irbil, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. He said the attacks “undermine Iraq's stability.”

A U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public said the U.S. tracked the missiles, which hit in northern Iraq and northern Syria, and no U.S. facilities were struck or damaged in the attacks. The official said initial indications were that the strikes were “reckless and imprecise.”

However, the full extent of the damage from the strikes could not be independently assessed.

An Iraqi security official said Irbil was targeted with “several” ballistic missiles but did not give further details. 

Peshraw Dizayi, a prominent local businessman with a portfolio that included real estate and security services companies, was killed in one of the Irbil strikes along with members of his family, according to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Mashan al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi member of parliament. Al-Jabouri said that one of the missiles had fallen on Dizayi’s “palace, next to my house, which is under construction on the road to the Salah al-Din resort.”

Other regional political figures also confirmed Dizayi's death.

Iran's strike in northern Syria late Monday came after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility earlier this month for two suicide bombings targeting a commemoration for an Iranian general slain in a 2020 U.S. drone strike. The attack in Kerman killed at least 84 people and wounded an additional 284 at a ceremony honoring Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Last month, Iran accused Israel of killing a high-ranking Iranian general, Seyed Razi Mousavi, in an airstrike on a Damascus neighborhood.

Iran promised payback for the killing of three IRGC members in Syria last month, including a senior general, who served as military advisers there.

 

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