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Iran claims missile strikes targeting Iraq and Syria destroyed Israeli spy base
By Cassie B. // Jan 18, 2024

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched ballistic missiles at targets in Syria and Iraq, hitting what they claim is a spy base for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in northern Iraq as well as “anti-Iran terror groups” in Syria.

One missile strike hit near the American consulate in Erbil, although U.S. officials have said that no American facilities were affected by the strikes. Iranian forces said that they were targeting an Israeli intelligence headquarters there. A rocket fell on the home of a senior Kurdish intelligence officer and a Kurdish intelligence center, and air traffic at the nearby Erbil airport was halted.

Four civilians were reportedly killed in the attack, but none of them were American. The Erbil strikes killed Kurdish businessman Peshraw Dizayi and his one-year-old daughter; his wife and two sons sustained serious injuries and his villa was destroyed. It is not known if the building was a target of the attack.

The United States has condemned the strikes, with White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson saying in a statement that the "initial indications are that this was a reckless and imprecise set of strikes."

"The United States supports the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq," she added.

The Iraqi government also condemned the attacks and has ordered an investigation into what happened. The country has also recalled its ambassador from Tehran for consultations on the strikes.

The foreign minister of Iraq, Fuad Hussein, told CNN that there aren’t any centers associated with the Mossad in Erbil and called the strikes a “violation of international law.”

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The IRGC also fired ballistic missiles at the bases of what they claim are “anti-Iran terror groups in occupied territories of Syria.”

Iran said the attacks were a response to a terrorist attack that took place in Kerman, Iran, last week. It consisted of two bombings that hit minutes apart during a commemoration ceremony for an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by an American drone strike in 2020. Nearly 90 people died in the attack. Although some Iranian leaders blamed Israel for the attack at first, ISIS took responsibility for it. It now appears that they have returned to the narrative that Israel is to blame for the attack, however.

Tensions continue to rise in the Middle East, fueling fears of a broader conflict

Iran’s attacks mark a major escalation of hostilities in the Middle East that many fear could spark a broader conflict that involves other nations. Israel’s ongoing bombings of Gaza in response to the deadly terror attacks in Israel on October 7 have killed at least 24,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gazan Ministry of Health, while the Gazan population is also dealing with fear, disease, starvation and other problems.

Attacks have been taking place throughout the region, with allies and proxies of Iran responsible for much of the damage. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have been carrying out strikes on commercial ships in the Red Sea, hitting an American-owned cargo ship there on Monday. The U.S. Navy seized ballistic and cruise missiles made by Iran that were being delivered to Houthi rebels from a vessel situated off the Somalian coast; two navy SEALs went overboard and remain missing.

Fighting has also intensified between Israel and another Iran-backed terror group, Hezbollah, near the Lebanon border. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has promised to continue the fighting until Israel withdraws from Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel recently killed a senior Hezbollah commander in a drone strike on his vehicle in Lebanon.

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