Missile attack on 'Israeli base' in Erbil revenge for killing Iranian forces in Syria, Iran's Revolutionary Guards say
Iran's Revolutionary Guards [IRGC] claimed responsibility for the Sunday missile attack on Iraq's northern Kurdish city of Erbil, which it said came in retaliation for the killing of two of its guards earlier this week in Syria in an Israeli air strike.
The IRGC said it targeted "an Israeli base", confirming earlier reports by Iranian media, which said rockets targeted "secret training centres" allegedly belonging to Israel's spy agency, Mossad.
Iran had warned Israel that it would "pay the price" for killing two of its guards in Syria, although it was not the first time IRGC members were killed in Israeli air strikes during Syria's decade-old conflict.
Twelve ballistic missiles rained on the capital of the self-autonomous Kurdistan region in the early hours of Sunday, but no casualties were reported.
Both the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government denounced the attack, adding that "no foreign units" were bombed, in apparent denial of the presence of an Israeli base.
"The attacks on Erbil yesterday only targeted civilians residency sites, and no foreign unit or base have been targeted, and we ask the international community to investigate into the attack and show the truth for the entire world," a statement by the Kurdistan Regional Government said.
RUMINT that Fateh-110 ballistic missiles were utilized to hit U.S. targets in Erbil, Iraq. Footage is circulating of missiles reportedly over Iran. pic.twitter.com/PIHX1qukJH— Global: MilitaryInfo (@Global_Mil_Info) March 12, 2022
Iranian state-run Network One TV earlier said that "Zionist spy centres" were targeted in missile strikes and not US bases.
"Zionist spy bases in the region are definitely targets of the Resistance Front, and in revenge for martyrs' blood these bases can be attacked at any moment," one expert on West Asian affairs told Network One TV.
"Iraqi media quoted security sources as saying that these centres were Mossad's modern training centres and were attacked by ballistic missiles," Radio Iran (VIRI) also said.
The Wall Street Journal had also reported earlier that US officials believed Iran was the source of the missiles, but could not confirm this.
Iraq has been rocked by chronic instability since the defeat of the extremist Islamic State group in 2017 by a loose coalition of Iraqi, US-led and Iran-backed forces.
Iran-aligned militias have regularly attacked US military and diplomatic sites in Iraq, US and Iraqi officials say. Iran denies involvement in those attacks. Domestic politics have also fuelled violence.