Iran fires missiles at Irbil US consulate; Tehran: ‘Secret Israeli bases’ targeted

No casualties after several projectiles fired toward building in Iraqi Kurdistan; Iran media claims without evidence that Israel operating sites there and they were target

By AGENCIESToday, 2:52 amUpdated at 8:22 am  

Illustrative: US Marines guard the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, Jan. 5, 2020. (US Marine Corps/Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot)

As many as 12 missiles were fired Sunday toward the US consulate in Iraq’s northern city of Irbil, with several missiles hitting the building, Iraqi and US security officials said.

Iranian state media agency IRNA, citing local reports, claimed without evidence that “secret Israeli bases” were targeted in the attack.

A US official said the missiles were launched from neighboring Iran.

Officials gave different accounts of damage. A US official said missiles hit the consulate, but a second American official later said there was no damage and no casualties at any US government facility.

Iraqi authorities said several missiles had hit the US consulate. The consulate building is new and currently unoccupied.

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Later, Lawk Ghafari, the head of Kurdistan’s foreign media office, said none of the missiles hit the US facility but that areas around the compound had been hit by the missiles.

The area’s governor said it was not clear whether the intended target was the US consulate or the airport, where there is a base for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

The airport said it had suffered no damage and flights had not been disrupted.

An AFP correspondent in the city heard three explosions.

Local television channel Kurdistan24, whose studios are not far from the US consulate, posted images on social networks of its damaged offices, with collapsed sections of false ceiling and broken glass.

Irbil is the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

“We condemn this terrorist attack launched against several sectors of Irbil, we call on the inhabitants to remain calm,” Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in a statement.

One of the officials said the ballistic missiles were fired from Iran, without elaborating.

The attack comes several days after Syrian state media reported an Israeli strike near Damascus, Syria. The reports said the airstrike killed two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Iran’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack Wednesday and vowed revenge.

On Sunday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Iraqi media acknowledging the attacks in Irbil, without saying where they originated.

Satellite broadcast channel Kurdistan24, which is located near the US consulate, went on air from their studio shortly after the attack, showing shattered glass and debris on their studio floor.

A security statement said Irbil was targeted “with a number of missiles” early Sunday, adding that security forces were investigating the incident and would release more details later.

The attack comes as negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal hit a “pause” over Russian demands about sanctions targeting Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

US interests and coalition troops in Iraq have regularly been targeted in rocket and armed drone attacks.

Western officials have blamed hardline pro-Iran factions for the attacks, which have never been claimed.

In late January, six rockets were fired at Baghdad International Airport, causing no casualties.

Iraq saw a surge in these sort of attacks at the beginning of the year as Iran and its allies commemorated the second anniversary of the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mehdi al-Mouhandis, killed by American drone fire in Iraq in January 2020.

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