Iranian missiles fell near US consulate in northern Iraq, officials say


A missile strike on Sunday morning that landed near a new US consulate being built in northern Iraq came from Iran, US officials said.

The compound was not hit and no U.S. personnel were injured, U.S. officials said. They added that they were unsure what was targeted and that the attack was still under investigation.

The attack involved no less than half a dozen missiles, and at least one landed more than two kilometers – 1.2 miles – from the new complex, according to US officials familiar with preliminary reports.

While a series of attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq have been carried out in recent years using drones and rockets, it is rare for such strikes to emanate from Iranian territory. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

US officials said the missile attack may have been in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria on Monday that killed two members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said after the Israeli strike that Iran would take steps to hold Israel accountable.

Israel has carried out airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias and Iranian personnel in Syria as it seeks to prevent Iran from transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia. The campaign includes placing mines on ships carrying oil and other cargo bound for Syria.

The Iranians have previously sought to pressure the United States to coerce their Israeli ally.

In October, Iran directed five drones at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria, which is defended by a small contingent of US forces and US-trained Syrian fighters. The Iranians said in a confidential message to the United States at the time that the attack was a response to an Israeli airstrike that killed two Iranian officers in Syria, US officials said.

In January, the sprawling US Embassy compound in Baghdad was hit by four rocket attacks that injured at least two people, but no US personnel were hurt. This attack originated from inside Baghdad and was allegedly carried out by an Iranian-backed militia.

A State Department spokesperson did not provide details about the new rocket attack, its origins or specify what the targets might have been.

“The incident is under investigation by the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government,” according to a State Department statement. “We condemn this outrageous attack and display of violence.”

The United States has a consulate in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, and is building a new one 13 km from the center of the city.

The strikes come as Washington races to complete talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The deal, which could also lead to the release of US detainees, was close to being done until Russia again demanded that its trade with Iran be exempted from Ukraine-related sanctions, according to Western officials.

In January 2020, Iran fired ballistic missiles at Al Asad base in western Iraq, where US troops were deployed. This was to avenge President Trump’s decision to order a drone strike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com

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