Sunday, December 4, 2022

At Least 5 Rockets Hit Iraq’s Erbil Near US Embassy: Reports

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At least 12 missiles landed on targets in northern Iraq, hitting an area near a U.S. Consulate in the city of Erbil in the early hours of Sunday, the state news agency quoted the Directorate General of Counter Terrorism in Kurdistan as saying.

“Several missiles fell on the city of Erbil,” said governor Omid Khoshnaw, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) also reported. Erbil is the capital city of the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

“No victims or casualties after Erbil blasts,” Saman Barzanji, health minister in Iraq’s Kurdistan Province, was cited as saying.

A spokesman for the Kurdish regional government said there were no casualties. A 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 Erbil.

No flight interruptions have been reported at Erbil airport.

Footage posted on social media shows multiple explosions. The Epoch Times cannot independently verify the footage.

A general view shows debris following an overnight attack in Arbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 13, 2022. (Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)
Sky News Arabia earlier reported that five long-range ballistic missiles targeted the site of a U.S. Consulate currently under construction there. It later reported that “12 ballistic missiles” were launched “from outside Iraq,” citing a statement from the counter-terrorism forces in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

One of the missiles fell on the headquarters of the Kurdish satellite channel K24, which is affiliated with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq , Masrour Barzani. The building is near the U.S. Consulate in Erbil.

A view of the damaged studio at the Kurdistan 24 TV building, after an overnight attack in Arbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 13, 2022. (Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)
Iran later claimed responsibility for the missile strike on the northern Iraqi city, saying it targeted an Israeli “strategic centre” and warning of more attacks.

“Seeing reports of Iran-backed attacks on the U.S. consulate in Iraq,” Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) said on Twitter. “This aggression shows we should absolutely end all Iran Nuclear Deal negotiations now. We must also never buy Iranian oil.”

In the past, U.S. forces stationed at Erbil’s international airport complex have come under fire from rocket and drone attacks that U.S. officials blame on Iran-aligned militia groups. There have been no such attacks for several months.

The last time ballistic missiles were directed at U.S. forces was in January 2020 in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force (IRGC-QF), at Baghdad airport earlier that same month. There were no deaths, however, many U.S. service members suffered head injuries from the strike.

Fars News Agency, which is managed by the IRGC of Iran’s Islamist regime, appeared to link the missile attack to the killing of Soleimani.

“Missiles hit the ‘Israeli-American’ bases at 01:20 local time; ‘that’s not a coincidence’. IRGC-QF chief Soleimani was killed in #Iraq on 7Jan20—01:20 Iraq time. #Iran,” Fars News wrote in a Twitter post, per a translation via journalist Khosro Kalbasi.

A view of a damaged building after an overnight attack in Arbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 13, 2022. (Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)
Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, wrote on Twitter: “The Soleimani factor in the #Erbil attack tonight is important. Soleimani’s birthday was on March 11, pro-IRGC media are boasting the attack tonight occured at same time of his death at 1:20 AM, the revenge attack on 01/08/20 also occured at 1:20 AM.

“And there are reports the Fateh-110s were used tonight, which also made a cameo appearance in the Soleimani revenge attack on U.S. forces in #Iraq on 01/08/2020. Would note #Iran has also launched Fateh-110s before on #Iraq, e.g. in September 2018 on KDPI HQ in Koya.”

An Israeli air strike in Syria killed two IRGC members on March 7, Iranian state media reported earlier. The IRGC vowed to retaliate, it said.

In a statement on March 13, the White House said the United States “condemns in the strongest terms Iran’s missile attack on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

“This attack targeted a civilian residence in Erbil, the Kurdistan Region’s capital city, without any justification. The United States stands with Prime Minister Kadhimi and the leaders of the Kurdistan Region, President Nechirvan Barzani, and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, in condemning this assault on the sovereignty of Iraq and its Kurdistan region.

“We will support the Government of Iraq in holding Iran accountable, and we will support our partners throughout the Middle East in confronting similar threats from Iran. The United States of America stands behind the full sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq.”

Melanie Sun and Reuters contributed to this report.

Update: This article was updated with the latest details on the attack, including more updated visuals of the affected site of the attack in Erbil, Iraq, instead of the former file photo of the city.


Mimi Nguyen Ly is a journalist based in Australia.

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