Ballistic missiles strike Iraqi Kurdish capital, no casualties – officials

ERBIL, Iraq, March 13 (Reuters) – The missile strikes that hit Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital in northern Iraq on Sunday, were launched from Iran, a U.S. official told Reuters, without giving further details. details.

A dozen ballistic missiles hit Erbil on Sunday at 1 a.m., targeting the new building of the American consulate and the nearby residential area but caused only material damage and one civilian was injured, the Kurdish ministry of peace said on Sunday. ‘Interior.

An Iranian state television correspondent based in Iraq said the missiles were targeting “secret Israeli bases”, information.

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There were no official claims of responsibility or other details available. A spokesperson for the US State Department called it an “outrageous attack”, but said no Americans were injured and there was no damage to US government facilities in Erbil.

US forces stationed at the Erbil International Airport complex have in the past been the target of rocket and drone attacks that US officials blame on Iran-aligned militias, but no such attacks have come. has been in production for several months.

The last time ballistic missiles were aimed at US forces was in January 2020 – Iranian retaliation for the US killing earlier this month of its military commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport.

No US personnel were killed in the 2020 attack, but many sustained head injuries.

Iraq and neighboring Syria are regularly the scene of violence between the United States and Iran. Iran-backed Shia Islamist militias have attacked US forces in both countries, and Washington has occasionally retaliated with airstrikes.

An Israeli airstrike in Syria on Monday killed two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iranian media reported this week. The IRGC has vowed to retaliate, he added.

Kurdish officials did not immediately say where the missiles hit. A regional authority spokesman said there were no flight disruptions at Erbil airport.

Residents of Erbil uploaded videos showing several large explosions, and some said the blasts rocked their homes. Reuters could not independently verify these videos.

Iraq has been rocked by chronic instability since the defeat of the Sunni Islamist group Islamic State in 2017 by a loose coalition of Iraqi forces, led by the United States and supported by Iran.

Since then, Iran-aligned militias have regularly attacked US military and diplomatic sites in Iraq, the US and multiple Iraqi officials said. Iran denies any involvement in these attacks.

Domestic politics also fueled the violence.

Iraqi political parties, most of which have armed wings, are currently in tense talks over forming a government after the October elections. Shiite militia groups close to Iran privately warn that they will resort to violence if they are excluded from any ruling coalition.

The groups’ main political enemies include their powerful Shiite rival, populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has vowed to form a government that excludes Iran’s allies and includes Kurds and Sunnis.

Talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are at risk of collapsing after a last-minute Russian demand forced world powers to suspend negotiations indefinitely despite a largely completed text. Read more

Negotiators reached the final stages of 11 months of talks to reinstate the deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

And Iran on Sunday suspended a fifth round of talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia that was due to take place in Baghdad on Wednesday. Read more

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Iraq Office Reports; Additional reporting by Yasmin Hussein and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo and Phil Stewart in Washington; Written by John Davison in Baghdad and Amina Ismail in Erbil; Editing by Daniel Wallis and William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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