As many as 12 missiles struck the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday near the US consulate, Iraqi security officials said. A US defense official said missiles had been launched at the city from neighboring Iran.
No injuries were reported. Officials in Iraq and the United States gave different accounts of the strike and the damage it caused. A second US official said there was no damage to US government facilities and there was no indication the target was the consulate building, which is new and currently unoccupied.
An Iraqi official in Baghdad first said several missiles hit the US consulate and it was the target of the attack. Later, Lawk Ghafari, the head of the Kurdistan Foreign Media Office, said that none of the missiles hit the US facility, but that areas around the compound were hit by the missiles.
The US defense official said he was still unsure of the exact number of missiles fired and where exactly they landed. No US official was authorized to discuss the event by name and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Iraqi security officials said there was no immediate report of casualties from the attack, which they said happened shortly after midnight and caused property damage in the area. They spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.
One of the Iraqi officials said the ballistic missiles were fired from Iran, without giving further details. US officials could not confirm the type of missile.
The second US official said the incident was being investigated by the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government. The United States condemned what it called an outrageous attack on Iraqi sovereignty and a display of violence, the official said in a statement.
The attack came several days after an Israeli strike near Damascus, Syria, killed two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Wednesday’s attack and vowed revenge.
On Sunday, Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Iraqi media acknowledging the attacks in Erbil, without saying where they originated.
The Kurdistan24 satellite broadcaster, located near the US consulate, broadcast from their studio shortly after the attack, showing shards of glass and debris on their studio floor.
A security statement said Erbil had been targeted by a number of missiles early on Sunday, adding that security forces were investigating the incident and would release more details later.
The attack came as talks in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal stalled in the face of Russian demands for sanctions on Moscow over its war on Ukraine.
The top US commander for the Middle East has repeatedly warned of growing threats of attacks by Iran and Iran-backed militias against troops and allies in Iraq and Syria.
In an interview with The Associated Press in December, Marine General Frank McKenzie said that while US forces in Iraq have shifted to a non-combat role, Iran and its proxies still want all US troops out of the country. . As a result, he said, it could trigger more attacks.
The Biden administration decided last July to end the US combat mission in Iraq by December 31, and US forces have been gradually shifting to an advisory role over the past year. The troops will still provide air support and other military aid for the Iraqis’ fight against the Islamic State.
The US presence in Iraq has long been a flashpoint for Tehran, but tensions rose after a January 2020 US drone strike near Baghdad airport killed a top Iranian general. In retaliation, Iran launched a barrage of missiles at al-Asad airbase, where US troops were stationed. More than 100 servicemen suffered traumatic brain injuries in the explosions.
More recently, Iranian proxies are suspected of being responsible for an assassination attempt late last year against Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
And officials have said they believe Iran was behind the October drone attack on the southern Syrian military outpost where US troops are based. No US personnel were killed or injured in the attack.
Al-Kadhimi tweeted: The aggression that targeted the dear city of Erbil and sowed fear among its residents is an attack on the security of our people.
Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish-controlled semi-autonomous region, condemned the attack. In a Facebook post, he said Erbil would not bow to the cowards who carried out the terror attack.