Revolutionary Guards say barrage aimed at Israeli “strategic center” in Iraq, according to Iranian media.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Sunday, cited by Iranian media, that it had launched a volley of precision missile strikes at “the Zionists’ strategic center of plotting and evil” in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil the night before. The strikes, which came close to a US diplomatic compound, came several days after Israeli air strikes in Syria that, Tehran says, killed two IRGC officers.
The IRGC’s statement was first reported by Iran’s state-owned IRNA news agency. According to the agency, Saturday night’s strike was a response to “recent crimes by the fake Zionist regime,” apparently a reference to an Israeli airstrike near the Syrian capital Damascus last week, which, according to the Islamic republic, killed two IRGC officers and two civilians.
The IRGC had earlier warned that Israel would “pay the price for such a crime.”
Video footage showed a barrage of around 12 missiles pounding the alleged Israeli site. Observers initially believed that the US diplomatic compound was being targeted.
However, the US compound – which is still under construction and unstaffed – was reportedly undamaged, no Americans were harmed, and American officials told reporters that the US facility was likely not the intended target.
Israel has not admitted to operating any such strategic facilities in Iraq.
While the IRGC did not admit to launching the missiles from Iranian territory, the fact that ballistic missiles rather than rockets were used suggests that the attack originated in Iran. The Kurdistan-based Rudaw network reported that the missiles had “originated from outside the Kurdistan region and Iraq,” citing the regional counter-terrorism authority.
Erbil is the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and the US consulate there serves Erbil province, along with the three other provinces that make up the region: Sulaimaniya, Duhok, and Halabja.
The bombardment marks the first time that Iran has directly launched missiles into Iraq since January 2020, when Tehran rained ballistic missiles down on two US bases – one near Erbil and another closer to Baghdad – in response to the US assassination of IRGC General Qassem Soleimani. No American troops were killed in the Iranian strike, but dozens were left with traumatic brain injuries.