Iran launches missile attacks in northern Iraq and Syria, claims to destroy Israeli spy base

(CNN) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Monday launched ballistic missiles at a spy base for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in northern Iraq and “anti-Iran terrorist groups” in Syria in the latest escalation of hostilities. Which can create danger. Widespread regional conflict.

These attacks were condemned by the United States as “reckless” and wrong.

Iranian forces said a midnight missile attack in Iraq destroyed “one of Israel’s main spy headquarters” in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, in what they said were Israeli strikes that killed the commander. Iranian Revolutionary Guard and member of the Iranian Resistance Front.

“This headquarters has been a center for developing espionage operations and planning terrorist acts in the region and Iran,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement on Monday.

CNN has contacted the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office for comment on the IRGC’s claim.

iran iraq attack

Smoke rises from a building hit by an attack in Erbil, Iraq on January 16, 2024. (Credit: Rudaw TV/AP)

The IRGC also said it attacked several locations in Erbil and claimed it was targeting “sites of Iranian opposition groups”.

At least four civilians were killed and six others were wounded in the attack, according to a statement early Tuesday from the Kurdistan Region Security Council.

According to a CNN journalist in the area, a large villa belonging to a prominent Kurdish businessman was also destroyed. There were unconfirmed reports of casualties on residential property, although it is not known whether the building was an intended target.

“This gross violation undermines the sovereignty of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” the Security Council said in its statement, accusing Iran of using a baseless pretext to attack Erbil, a historically stable city. area, which it said has never posed a threat anywhere.

Also on Monday, the IRGC said it fired ballistic missiles at targets of “anti-Iran terrorist groups in the occupied Syrian territories.”

He claimed that the targets were involved in twin attacks during a memorial event for recently killed Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in the city of Kerman, which killed and injured dozens of people.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly twin blasts near Soleimani’s burial site, the deadliest attack on Iran since the 1979 revolution.

In its statement, the IRGC said it “identified and destroyed a number of key terrorist commanders and elements, particularly Daesh (ISIS), in Syrian-held areas by firing a series of ballistic missiles.”

A US official said on Monday that early indications from Iran’s missile attacks suggested “these were a series of reckless and precise strikes.”

“We have seen reports and tracked missiles striking northern Iraq and northern Syria. No US personnel or facilities were targeted,” the official said.

iran iraq attack

Officials and others gather near the site of missile attacks near the US Consulate in Erbil, Iraq, on January 15, 2024. (Credit: Rudaw TV/AP)

The US official said, “Iran is claiming it is in response to terrorist attacks in Kerman, Iran, and Rask, Iran, focusing on ISIS. We will continue to evaluate the situation.”

An unnamed US State Department spokesperson told CNN that the attacks “did not cause any damage to the US Consulate in Erbil or the new consular complex under construction.”

“No American personnel were injured,” he said.

Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, “called on our allies in the international community not to remain silent in the face of repeated attacks against the people of Kurdistan.”

“This afternoon, Erbil was once again attacked by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Unfortunately, during tonight’s unjustified attack, many civilians were martyred and injured,” Barzani said in a statement.

“I condemn in the strongest terms this cowardly attack against the people of the Kurdistan Region,” the document said.

Concern about increasing war

Iran’s attacks will further heighten fears that Israel’s war in Gaza could escalate into a full-scale war in the Middle East, with serious humanitarian, political and economic consequences.

Israel’s sustained bombardment of Gaza in response to Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks has killed more than 24,000 people and caused widespread destruction as civilians live with the threat of imminent death, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Be it through air strikes. , starvation, or disease.

The UN emergency relief chief said the war had brought famine to Gaza “at an incredible pace”, and South Africa filed genocide allegations in the UN’s top court, claims Israel strongly denies.

The conflict has escalated hostilities across the region, with Iran’s allies and proxies – the so-called Axis of Resistance – launching attacks against Israeli forces and their allies.

Last week, US forces sank three ships belonging to Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, and the US and Britain targeted Houthi targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in an effort to stop a series of attacks against commercial shipping. But the attacks had started.

This Monday, a Houthi missile struck a US-owned cargo ship in the Red Sea, marking what appears to be the first time terrorists have successfully attacked a ship owned or operated by the United States.

Last week, the United States carried out strikes in Baghdad that killed a leader of an Iran-backed proxy group, which Washington blames for attacks on US personnel in the region. US troops in Iraq and Syria have repeatedly been the targets of rocket and drone attacks by proxies of Tehran.

Fighting across the border in Lebanon has intensified between Israel and the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group. On Sunday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed to continue fighting Israeli forces along the Lebanese border until an end to the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Last week, a senior Hezbollah commander was killed in an Israeli drone strike on his car in southern Lebanon, a Lebanese security source told CNN. Wissam Tawil is the highest-ranking member of the Shia militant group to be killed in an Israeli strike since firing began between Hezbollah and Israel on the Lebanon-Israel border on October 8.

Israel is also suspected of attacking in highland areas. The killing of senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut sparked anger among Hezbollah leaders who control the area.

—CNN’s Jennifer Hunsler, Nechirvan Mando and Haley Britzky contributed reporting.

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