This image from video provided by Rudaw TV shows smoke rising from a strike-hit building in Erbil, Iraq, January 16, 2024. AP
Iran announced early Tuesday, January 16, that it had fired multiple volleys of ballistic missiles at “terrorist” targets in Syria and Iraq, killing at least “four civilians” in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to local authorities.
On the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it attacked and destroyed “a spy headquarters” that it attributed to Israel, as well as targeting “a gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist groups.” according to the official IRNA news agency. If Iraq criminalizes all contact with Israel, politicians from autonomous Kurdistan have historically been able to be complacent on the issue. But Kurdistan's official line remains cautious, denying any relationship or desire for normalization with Israel.
At least “four civilians” were killed and six others injured in the Iranian rocket fire, the autonomous region’s authorities said in a statement, saying some of the injured were in “critical condition.” An Agence France-Presse correspondent in Erbil heard several loud explosions as the rockets hit an upscale residential area northeast of the Kurdish capital.
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Erbil's ruling party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), also reported the deaths of civilians, including real estate tycoon Peshraw Dizayee, his wife and other family members whose homes were destroyed.
Washington condemns the attacks
In a statement, Kurdistan's Security Council accused Tehran of resorting to “baseless justifications” for its repeated bombings against the region. “What happened is a blatant violation of the sovereignty of the region and Iraq. “The federal government and the international community cannot remain silent in the face of these crimes,” the statement said.
The United States condemned these attacks by Iran in Iraqi Kurdistan and reiterated that it “opposes” these “irresponsible missile attacks” that “undermine the stability of Iraq,” said a Defense Department press release.
According to IRNA, the attack in Erbil was in retaliation for the recent killings of several Revolutionary Guard commanders, as well as leaders of the “Axis of Resistance,” as Tehran's allies in the fight against Israel are called.
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On January 2, Hamas' number two, Saleh Al-Arouri, and six other officials and leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement were killed in an attack attributed to Israel in the southern suburbs of Beirut. In mid-January, Wissam Tawil, a senior military official with the powerful Hezbollah, was killed in southern Lebanon in an attack also attributed to Israel.
In Syria, an attack against ISIS in retaliation for recent attacks
In addition, the Guard Corps announced that in Syria it had identified “assembly sites of commanders and key elements related to recent terrorist attacks, in particular the Islamic State” (IS), and had “destroyed them by firing a certain number of ballistic missiles.” He explained that this attack was carried out “in response to the recent crimes of terrorist groups that have unjustly martyred a number of our dear compatriots in Kerman and Rask.”
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On January 3, attackers carried out a suicide attack against a crowd gathered in Kerman in the south during a memorial ceremony near the grave of General Qassem Soleimani, the former architect of Iranian military operations in the Middle East who was killed by a terrorist in January 2020 Iran had gathered American attack in Iraq. The attack, claimed by ISIS, left about 90 dead and many injured.
The attacks carried out by Iran on the night of Monday to Tuesday come in a tense regional context, against the backdrop of the Gaza war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas, which is raising fears of a regional conflagration between the allies of the two camps.
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