Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they attacked the “espionage headquarters” of Israel in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, state media reported late on Monday, January 15, while the elite force said they also struck in Syria against the Islamic State.
“Ballistic missiles were used to destroy espionage centers and gatherings of anti-Iranian terrorist groups in the region late tonight,” Iran’s Guards said in a statement, naming Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
In addition to those strikes northeast of Kurdistan’s capital Erbil in a residential area near the US consulate, the Guards said they launched attacks against the “perpetrators of terrorist operations” in Iran, including the Islamic State.
No US facilities were impacted by the missile strikes, two US officials told Reuters.
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 October 7, with Iran’s allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Iran, which supports Hamas in its war with Israel, accuses the United States of backing what it calls Israeli crimes in Gaza. The US has said it backs Israel in its campaign but has raised concerns about the number of Palestinian civilians killed.
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.
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. – Rappler.com