Iraqi officials deny building was linked to Mossad

Iraq recalls envoy to Iran after IRGC claims to fire missiles at Mossad site in Erbil

Tehran’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad summoned in protest after Revolutionary Guard fires projectiles at what it claimed was Israeli ‘spy headquarters,’ killing several civilians

This image taken from video provided by Rudaw TV shows authorities and others near the site where missiles hit in an area near the US consulate in Erbil, Iraq, January 15, 2024. (Rudaw TV via AP)
This image taken from video provided by Rudaw TV shows authorities and others near the site where missiles hit in an area near the US consulate in Erbil, Iraq, January 15, 2024. (Rudaw TV via AP)

ERBIL, Iraq — 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 US Consulate compound in Erbil, 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. Iraqi officials denied that the building was related to Mossad, with Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem al-Araji dismissing the “false” claim.

“Concerning the alleged presence of a headquarters of Israel’s Mossad, we visited the house, we inspected every corner of it and everything indicated that it was the family home of an Iraqi businessman,” Araji told Kurdish television station K24 after touring the building that was hit.

“These allegations are false and incorrect,” added Araji, who has been tasked by the Baghdad government with investigating the Iranian strike.

Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish region, called for an Iraqi response.

“There is no reason for these attacks and there is no excuse,” Barzani said during a news conference in Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum on Tuesday. “These attacks should not remain without a response.”

The strikes came at a time of heightened tensions in the region and fears of a wider spillover of the ongoing war in Gaza.

Syrians look at an abandoned medical facility in the village of Talteta, Syria, Jan. 16, 2024, that was hit by Iranian missiles late Monday night, according to a voluntary rescue group White Helmets (AP Photo/Omar Albam)

They also 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 US 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 Erbil 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.

This image taken from video provided by Rudaw TV shows smoke rising from a building hit by a strike in Erbil, Iraq, January 16, 2024. (Rudaw TV via AP)

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 Erbil on Tuesday to protest the attacks.

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