Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched ballistic missiles targeting what they claimed were Israeli spy headquarters in Iraq’s Kurdish region and alleged ISIL (ISIS) positions in northern Syria.
The attacks have drawn condemnation from various quarters, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
The IRGC stated that it fired 11 ballistic missiles to destroy alleged Israeli espionage centers in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The attack resulted in at least four civilian casualties, with several others wounded, according to the regional security council. Among the victims was a Kurdish businessman, Peshraw Dizayee, and members of his family.
The Iranian government claimed that it targeted Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, accusing it of being involved in the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders and supporting anti-Iranian groups.
The Iraqi government condemned the attack, terming it an aggression on Erbil, a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, and a threat to the security of its people.
The United States condemned Iran’s actions, describing the missile attacks as reckless. The U.S. Department of State spokesperson, Matthew Miller, expressed condolences to the victims’ families and confirmed support for the Iraqi government.
The United Kingdom, also condemned Iran’s actions. British Foreign Minister David Cameron denounced the missile strikes as “unprovoked and unjustified actions” that violated Iraq’s territorial integrity.
Concerns are growing that the continued military offensive in Gaza could lead to a regional escalation, involving various state and non-state actors.
The IRGC claimed responsibility for launching missile strikes against alleged ISIL positions in northern Syria.
The statement said that the strikes were in response to recent terrorist atrocities in Iran, particularly the twin bombings in Kerman on January 3, which ISIS claimed responsibility for.
The IRGC stated that it targeted the “perpetrators of terrorist operations in the Islamic Republic, particularly ISIL,” using ballistic missiles.
The strikes is at destroying gathering places of ISIL commanders and elements in response to terrorist acts in Iran.
Sina Azodi, an adjunct professor at George Washington University, noted that while the missile strikes are significant, they may not necessarily signal an escalation but could contribute to a situation.
The timing of the attacks, amid the Israel-Gaza conflict and other ongoing regional tensions, questions about the interconnected nature of conflicts in the Middle East. The fear is that an unintended consequence, such as casualties involving U.S. forces.
Iraq responded to the missile strikes by recalling its ambassador from Tehran for consultations and summoning Iran’s charge d’affaires in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government expressed its intention to consider various actions, including filing a complaint at the United Nations Security Council.
The U.S. and the UK reiterated their support for the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts to address the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, stated that while Iran respects the territorial integrity of other countries, it asserts its “legitimate and legal right to deter national security threats.”
The Iranian government framed the missile strikes as a response to threats and as a means of safeguarding its national security.
Regional dynamics, including Iran’s alliances with various groups in Iraq and Syria, contribute to the situation.
The IRGC’s assertion of targeting ISIL in Syria with Iran’s involvement in the fight against the extremist group, which has claimed responsibility for recent attacks in Iran.