Iran’s ambassador to Iraq threatens more attacks on Erbil against 'Israeli activities' in KRG

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq threatens more attacks on Erbil against 'Israeli activities' in KRG
5 min read
16 March, 2022
Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad has reportedly submitted documents to the Iraqi officials demonstrating that "Israeli drones in Erbil have launched attacks inside Iran in mid-February," an Iraqi source exclusively told The New Arab
Iraqi MP Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and KRG PM Masrour Barzani visit damaged areas after a missile attack by Iran in Erbil, Iraq. [Getty]
Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, warned of more Iranian attacks on "Israeli strategic centres" in Erbil during a meeting with Iraqi foreign ministry officials on Sunday,  a source close to Iraqi and Iranian officials told The New Arab.
 
The comments were made after the Iraqi foreign ministry officials summoned the Iranian ambassador on Sunday to clarify why his country launched 12 ballistic missiles on an apparent residential target in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR).
 
According to the source, Masjidi claimed the missile attacks were in retaliation to Israeli activities against Iran launched allegedly from Erbil in mid-February, and warned of more attacks to come. 
 

"Masjedi submitted documents to the Iraqi foreign ministry officials proving that Israeli drones have flown from a mansion in Erbil and carried out attacks against a fleet of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) drones in Mahidasht region of Kermanshah province, west of Iran in 14, February," the well-informed Iraqi source close to both the Iranian and Iraqi officials told The New Arab, under a strict condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information.
 
"Masjedi said they knew that through pursuing frequencies of the Israeli drones, and they found out they were coming from Erbil. He also mentioned some other suspected places in Erbil of harbouring Israeli activities and told Iraqi officials to warn the Kurdish authorities that Iran would attack those places within a month if the places would not be evacuated," the source added. 
 
According to Haaretz, an Israeli media outlet, the Erbil missile attack was Iran's retaliation for the bombing of "a drone base near the western Iranian city of Kermanshah in mid-February that was carried out by six Israeli drones...that caused heavy damage to the country's drone network, with several estimates saying that hundreds of drones were destroyed."
 

Farnaz Fassihi, a journalist at The New York Times tweeted on March 14, that a top US official disclosed to The New York Times that the building hit acted as an Israeli training facility. However the following day, Tuesday, US officials walked back the comments as a senior Biden administration figure stated that the building was understood to be civilian in nature.
"One U.S. official, citing a conversation with an Iraqi counterpart, said that the targets included where a Mossad cell was suspected to have operated," The Washington Post also reported on March 12.

 
"Iraqi officials replied that they would form a fact-checking committee to visit Erbil and investigate the incident. Iraqi officials also replied that if Iranian evidence were true, and then they will also not tolerate that,” the source elaborated to The New Arab.  
 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited Erbil early on Monday and toured a mansion that was targeted by several of the ballistic Iranian missiles. The mansion is the residence of Baz Karim Barzinji , CEO and founder of Kar Group-a Kurdish oil company operating in the oil and gas sector in the IKR, according to Rudaw English, a leading media outlet in the Kurdish region.

 
"During the attack no foreigners were inside the house, no one was killed inside the mansion since prior to one hour from the attack on Erbil, Iran informed Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan region, who accordingly informed the owner of the mansion to urgently evacuate the area," the source added, clarifying that the step by Iran was apparently due to the existence of civilians inside the building.

 
The New Arab contacted Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesperson for Iraq's foreign ministry, and Niyaz Barzani, head of the Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy in the Office of Nechirvan Barzani, but both have yet to respond to requests for comments. 
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A senior delegation from the Iraqi parliament, including deputy speakers and several MPs, also visited the mansion in Erbil, holding a press conference in which they said they would launch an investigation into the attack.

 
During the press conference, Barzinji thanked the delegation and asked for a comprehensive investigation. He also told Rudaw's reporter that he had "miraculously" survived.

 
Ari Harsin, a leadership council member in Masaud Barzani's the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said to The New Arab in a phone interview that the alleged existence of Israeli centres in Erbil amounts to "nonsense accusations towards a stateless nation", and a "bizarre delusion". Harsin also questioned if Iran wants to retaliate to Israeli assaults, why it not attacking Israel from Lebanon, or Syria.
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"We are not responding to allegations. If Iran or anyone has proof regarding the Erbil attacks let them make publish it for the international community," Harsin added.

 
Mahmoud al-Hayali, a leader in Al-Fateh Alliance led by pro-Iran Hadi Al-Amiri, of Iran, told The New Arab that it is the duty of the Iraqi federal government, as well as the KRG, to investigate if Iran was correct.

 
"If it is confirmed that there were no Israeli centres in Erbil, then attacking Erbil, or any other place in Iraq by Iran is a clear breach of Iraq's sovereignty. We condemn breaching Iraq's sovereignty by Iran or any other foreign or Arabic country," al-Hayali said. 
 
"In case it has been proven that there are Israeli centres in Erbil, then this is a catastrophe for the Iraqi government as well as the KRG if they are not aware of such Israeli existence it is a calamity if they were aware of it and kept silent that is a bigger misfortune."