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Iran admits to missile attack near US consulate in Iraq

A test-fire of the Fateh-110, an Iranian Ballistic single-stage solid-propellant, surface-to-surface missile. (Hossein Velayati/Wikimedia Commons)
March 13, 2022

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has claimed responsibility for a series of missile strikes that landed near the U.S. consulate in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) — the official press agency of the Iranian government — reported that the IRGC had confirmed launching precision-guided missiles. IRNA and other Iranian media outlets claimed the missiles targeted a “Zionist” spy base in Erbil that had been used to plan attacks against Iran. IRNA further claimed the missile strikes “dismantled” the alleged “Zionist” spy network.

Iran frequently refers to Israel as the Zionist. The missile strikes come three days after two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria. Reuters reported the Iranian side has already vowed revenge for the strike.

Iran presented no evidence that Israeli forces were present in Erbil, nor did they provide any evidence that they had successfully struck any Israeli targets in their missile strikes.

The missile strikes also missed the U.S. consulate in Erbil, as well as any bases hosting U.S. forces in the region.

The attack Saturday night is believed to have been carried out with Iranian Fateh-110 ballistic missiles. Fateh-110s are road-mobile surface to surface ballistic missiles. Fateh-110s may have been the missiles Iran used in strikes on U.S. bases on Jan. 8, 2020, in retaliation for the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Rather than hitting either Israeli or U.S. positions in Erbil, the missiles instead damaged civilian property in the area. The Kurdistan 24 news broadcast office was among the buildings damaged in the missile strike and video captured from inside the building showed some of the damage it sustained in a shockwave following one of the strikes.

“The United States condemns the criminal attack on civilian targets in Erbil. Iranian regime elements have claimed responsibility for this attack and must be held accountable for this flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and for terrorist attacks on innocent civilian properties,” U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller said in response to the Iranian missile strikes.

The missile attacks come as the U.S. and Iran are still in talks to restart the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Associated Press reported the Iranian delegation recently agreed to a Russian request that they “pause” negotiations in Vienna, Austria, after the U.S. and other western nations sanctioned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. State Department has not offered any further comment about the impact these Iranian missile strikes may have on nuclear deal negotiations.