By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
BAGHDAD (AP) — As many as 12 missiles struck close to a sprawling U.S. consulate advanced within the northern Iraqi metropolis of Irbil on Sunday, in what a U.S. protection official and an Iraqi official stated was a strike launched from neighboring Iran.
No accidents had been reported within the assault, which marked a major escalation between the U.S. and Iran. Hostility between the longtime foes has typically performed out in Iraq, whose authorities is allied with each international locations.
The Iraqi official in Baghdad initially stated a number of missiles had hit the U.S. consulate in Irbil and that it was the goal of the assault. Later, Lawk Ghafari, the top of Kurdistan’s international media workplace, stated not one of the missiles had struck the U.S. facility however that areas across the compound had been hit.
The U.S. protection official stated it was nonetheless unsure precisely what number of missiles had been fired and precisely the place they landed. A second U.S. official stated there was no harm at any U.S. authorities facility and that there was no indication the goal was the consulate constructing, which is new and at present unoccupied.
Neither the Iraqi official nor the U.S. officers had been licensed to debate the occasion with the media and spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity.
Satellite tv for pc broadcast channel Kurdistan24, which is situated close to the U.S. consulate, went on air from their studio shortly after the assault, exhibiting shattered glass and particles on their studio flooring.
The assault got here a number of days after Iran stated it will retaliate for an Israeli strike close to Damascus, Syria, that killed two members of its Revolutionary Guard. On Sunday, Iran’s state-run IRNA information company quoted Iraqi media acknowledging the assaults in Irbil, with out saying the place they originated.
The missile barrage additionally coincided with regional tensions. Negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal hit a “pause” over Russian calls for about sanctions focusing on Moscow for its struggle on Ukraine. In the meantime, Iran suspended its secret Baghdad-brokered talks aimed toward defusing yearslong tensions with regional rival Saudi Arabia, after Saudi Arabia carried out its largest recognized mass execution in its fashionable historical past with over three dozens Shiites killed.
The Iraqi safety officers stated there have been no casualties from the Irbil assault, which they stated occurred after midnight and brought about materials harm within the space. They spoke on situation of anonymity in keeping with rules.
One of many Iraqi officers stated the ballistic missiles had been fired from Iran, with out elaborating. He stated the projectiles had been the Iranian-made Fateh-110, seemingly fired in retaliation for the 2 Revolutionary Guards killed in Syria.
One other U.S. official stated in an announcement that the U.S. condemned what it referred to as an “outrageous attack against Iraqi sovereignty and display of violence.”
U.S. forces stationed at Irbil’s airport compound have come beneath fireplace from rocket and drone assaults prior to now, with U.S. officers blaming Iran-backed teams.
The highest U.S. commander for the Center East has repeatedly warned in regards to the growing threats of assaults from Iran and Iranian-backed militias on troops and allies in Iraq and Syria.
In an interview with The Related Press in December, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie stated that whereas U.S. forces in Iraq have shifted to a non-combat position, Iran and its proxies nonetheless need all American troops to go away the nation. Consequently, he stated, which will set off extra assaults.’
The Biden administration determined final July to finish the U.S. fight mission in Iraq by Dec. 31, and U.S. forces step by step moved to an advisory position final yr. The troops will nonetheless present air assist and different navy help for Iraq’s struggle towards the Islamic State.
The U.S. presence in Iraq has lengthy been a flash level for Tehran, however tensions spiked after a January 2020 U.S. drone strike close to the Baghdad airport killed a prime Iranian basic. In retaliation, Iran launched a barrage of missiles at al-Asad airbase, the place U.S. troops had been stationed. Greater than 100 service members suffered traumatic mind accidents within the blasts.
Extra just lately, Iranian proxies are believed liable for an assassination try late final yr on Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
And officers have stated they consider Iran was behind the October drone assault on the navy outpost in southern Syria the place American troops are based mostly. No U.S. personnel had been killed or injured within the assault.
Al-Kadhimi tweeted: “The aggression which targeted the dear city of Irbil and spread fear amongst its inhabitants is an attack on the security of our people.”
Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdish-controlled area, condemned the assault. In a Fb put up, he stated Irbil “will not bow to the cowards who carried out the terrorist attack.”
Related Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Matthew Lee in Washington, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to point out U.S. officers didn’t say the U.S. consulate had been been broken.