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Missile volley hits Iraq’s Kurdish capital Erbil

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A dozen ballistic missiles hit northern Iraq’s Kurdish regional capital Erbil in the early hours of Sunday, Kurdish officials said, with a US official blaming Iran for the attack that also targeted the new consulate building. American.

The missile attack comes as talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal face the prospect of collapse after a last-minute Russian demand forced world powers to pause negotiations for an indefinite period despite having a largely completed text.

The missiles caused only material damage and one civilian was injured, the Kurdish Interior Ministry said. An Iraqi security official told Reuters the missiles were made in Iran.

There was no official claim of liability or further details available. An Iraqi-based Iranian state television correspondent said the missiles were aimed at “secret Israeli bases.”

The US official who said Iran was responsible did not elaborate. Iranian officials have yet to comment.

Separately, the US State Department spokesman called it an “outrageous attack” but said no Americans were injured and no damage was done to US government facilities in Erbil.

US forces stationed at the Erbil international airport complex have been subjected to rocket and drone attacks in the past that Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but such attacks have not occurred for several months.

“It is premature to point the finger at a specific party, but initial reports indisputably show that it was a short-range missile attack across the border,” said an Iraqi security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Parts of the fired missiles were recovered and were manufactured by Iran,” he said.

In another sign of rising regional tensions, Iran on Sunday also called off a fifth round of talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia, which were due to take place in Baghdad on Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

A Kurdish spokesman for regional authorities said there were no flight interruptions at Erbil airport.

Residents of Erbil posted videos online showing several large explosions, with some saying the blasts shook their homes. Reuters was unable to independently verify those videos.

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

Since then, Iranian-aligned militias have regularly attacked US diplomatic and military sites in Iraq, US officials and many Iraqis say. Iran denies involvement in those attacks.

(Reuters)


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