Iran’s Guards Attack Israel’s ‘Spy Headquarters’ in Iraq, Vow More Revenge
10:52 JST, January 16, 2024
DUBAI/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they attacked the “spy headquarters” of Israel in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, state media reported late on Monday, while the elite force said they also struck in Syria against the Islamic State.
The strikes come amid concerns about the escalation of a conflict that has spread through the Middle East since the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas began on Oct. 7, with Iran’s allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“In response to the recent atrocities of the Zionist regime, causing the killing of commanders of the Guards and the Axis of Resistance … one of the main Mossad espionage headquarters in Iraq’s Kurdistan region was destroyed with ballistic missiles,” the Guards said in a statement.
Iran had vowed revenge for the killing of three members of the Guards in Syria last month, including a senior Guards commander, who had served as military advisers there.
Since the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas fighters into Israeli territory and the ensuing Israeli bombing campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon, more than 130 fighters of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah have been killed in hostilities.
“We assure our nation that the Guards’ offensive operations will continue until avenging the last drops of martyrs’ blood,” the Guards’ statement said.
In addition to those strikes northeast of Kurdistan’s capital Erbil in a residential area near the U.S. consulate, the Guards said they “fired a number of ballistic missiles in Syria and destroyed the perpetrators of terrorist operations” in Iran, including the Islamic State.
Earlier this month, Islamic State claimed responsibility for two explosions in Iran’s southeastern Kerman city that killed nearly 100 people and wounded scores at a memorial for top commander Qassem Soleimani.
Iran, which supports Hamas in its war with Israel, accuses the United States of backing what it calls Israeli crimes in Gaza. The U.S. has said it backs Israel in its campaign but has raised concerns about the number of Palestinian civilians killed.
In a statement from his office, Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani condemned the attack on Erbil as a “crime against the Kurdish people.”
At least four civilians were killed and six injured in the strikes on Erbil, the Kurdistan government’s security council said in a statement, describing the attack as a “crime.”
Multimillionaire Kurdish businessman Peshraw Dizayee and several members of his family were among the dead, killed when at least one rocket crashed into their home, Iraqi security and medical sources said.
Dizayee, who was close to the ruling Barzani clan, owned businesses that led major real estate projects in Kurdistan.
Additionally, one rocket had fallen on the house of a senior Kurdish intelligence official and another on a Kurdish intelligence center, the security sources said.
Reuters could not independently verify any of the reports. Israeli government officials were not reachable for immediate comment.
Air traffic at Erbil airport was halted, the security sources said.
Iran has in the past carried out strikes in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, saying the area is used as a staging ground for Iranian separatist groups as well as agents of its arch-foe Israel.
Baghdad has tried to address Iranian concerns over separatist groups in the mountainous border region, moving to relocate some members as part of a security agreement reached with Tehran in 2023.
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