The Iranian government has claimed responsibility for a recent missile barrage that targeted the expansive U.S. consulate complex in the Iraqi city of Irbil – also spelled Erbil.
There are no reported American fatalities, according to the Associated Press, but the attack marks a significant escalation between the U.S. and Iran.
The Iranian Revolutionary guard said that it launched the attack against an Israeli “strategic center of conspiracy” in Irbil.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said that Israel recently acted offensively by planning a recent strike that killed two members of the Revolutionary Guard which prompted an Iranian response.
“Following the recent crimes of the fake Zionist regime and the previous announcement that the crimes and evils of this infamous regime will not go unanswered; Last night, the ‘Strategic Center of Conspiracy and Evil of the Zionists’ was targeted by powerful and point-to-point missiles of the IRGC,” the Iranian Revolutionary Guard said in a statement following the attack.
An American defense official and an Iraqi security official confirmed that the strike was launched from Iran.
An Iraqi official in Baghdad initially said that several missiles had struck the U.S. consulate in Ibril and that the consulate was the target of the attack.
However, Lawk Ghafari, the head of the Kurdish foreign media office, said that none of the missiles struck the U.S. facility but that areas around the sprawling complex had been hit.
The U.S. defense official said it was unclear how many missiles were fired and what the precise area of impact was. A second U.S. official said that there was no damage at any building belonging to the U.S. government and that there is no clear indication that the target was the consulate complex.
The barrage came several days after the Iranian government said that it would retaliate for an earlier Israeli attack outside of Damascus, Syria, that resulted in the deaths of two members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The attack also coincided with increasing regional tensions.
Negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials over the Iran nuclear deal have been paused in response to Russian complaints over Western sanctions stemming from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian diplomats have been serving as meditators during the negotiations.
Iranian officials also suspended the ongoing secret Baghdad talks that were aimed at defusing longstanding tensions with its rivals in Saudi Arabia.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi responded to the attack by tweeting: “The aggression which targeted the dear city of Erbil and spread fear amongst its inhabitants is an attack on the security of our people. I discussed these developments with the KRG PM. Our security forces will investigate and stand firm against any threats toward our people.”