BAGHDAD (AP) – Iran has claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck early yesterday near a sprawling United States (US) consulate complex in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, saying it was retaliation for an Israeli strike in Syria that killed two members of its Revolutionary Guard.
No injuries were reported in the attack, which marked a significant escalation between the US and Iran. Hostility between the longtime foes has often played out in Iraq, whose government is allied with both countries.
Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said on its website that it launched the attack against an Israeli “strategic centre of conspiracy” in Irbil. It did not elaborate, but in a statement said Israel had itself been on the offensive, citing the recent strike that killed two Revolutionary Guards.
Earlier, a US defence official and Iraqi security officials said the strike was launched from neighbouring Iran.
One Iraqi official in Baghdad initially said several missiles had hit the US consulate in Irbil and that it was the target of the attack.
Later, head of Kurdistan’s foreign media office Lawk Ghafari said none of the missiles had struck the US facility but that areas around the compound had been hit.
A statement issued by the interior ministry of Iraq’s Kurdistan region said the missiles were launched from outside Iraq, from the east, without naming Iran.
The US defence official said it was still uncertain exactly how many missiles were fired and exactly where they landed. A second US official said there was no damage at any US government facility and that there was no indication the target was the consulate building, which is new and currently unoccupied.
Neither the Iraqi official nor the US officials were authorised to discuss the event with the media and spoke to The Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity.
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.
The attack came several days after Iran said it would retaliate for an Israeli strike near Damascus, Syria, that killed two members of its Revolutionary Guard.