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Iraq recalls ambassador, summons Iran’s chargé d’affaires over strikes in Irbil

Iraq's Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultations and summoned Iran’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad in protest over Iranian strikes on northern Iraq that killed several civilians overnight

Salar Salim,Omar Albam
Tuesday 16 January 2024 10:46 GMT

Iraq recalled its ambassador from Tehran for consultations and summoned Iran’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad on Tuesday in protest over Iranian strikes on northern Iraq that killed several civilians overnight, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said.

The Iranian attack was “a blatant violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, strongly contradicts the principles of good neighborliness and international law, and threatens the security of the region,” it said in a statement.

Iran fired missiles late Monday at what it said were Israeli “spy headquarters” in an upscale neighborhood near the sprawling U.S. Consulate compound in Irbil, the seat of Iraq’s northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and at targets linked to the extremist Islamic State group in northern Syria.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said in a statement Tuesday that it launched four Kheibar missiles at IS positions in Idlib in Syria and 11 precision ballistic missiles at the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, where it said it hit a center of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Iran’s strikes came after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility earlier this month for two suicide bombings targeting a commemoration for an Iranian general slain in a 2020 U.S. drone strike. The attack in Kerman killed at least 84 people and wounded 284 others at the ceremony honoring Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Last month, Iran accused Israel of killing a high-ranking Iranian general, Seyed Razi Mousavi, in an airstrike on a Damascus neighborhood.

It was unclear whether the strikes in Syria had, in fact, hit any targets associated with the Islamic State group.

Mounir al-Mustafa, deputy director of the civil defense in northwest Syria, also known as the White Helmets, said one of the strikes in Idlib targeted a medical clinic that was no longer operating in the village of Talteta in northwest Idlib province. Two civilians suffered minor injuries, he said.

Sami al-Qassim, who lives near the targeted site, said the clinic was empty and there were no militant activities in the area.

The strike in Irbil killed at least four people, among them Peshraw Dizayi, a prominent local businessman with a portfolio that included real estate and security services companies, along with members of his family.

The United States condemned what State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described as “Iran’s reckless missile strikes.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement that the strikes in Iraq and Syria were “in line with the resolute defense of the country’s sovereignty and security, countering terrorism, and part of the Islamic Republic’s punishment against those who threaten the country’s security.”

He said that Iran in “a precise and targeted operation, identified the headquarters of the criminals and targeted them with accurate and precision-guided projectiles.”

A few hundred demonstrators gathered in Irbil on Tuesday to protest the attacks.

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Albam reported from Taltela, Syria. Associated Press journalists Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Abdulrahman Zeyad in Baghdad and Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.

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