The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a statement today confirming it attacked Erbil Sunday morning under the pretext that it was responding to Israeli operations against Iranian interests.
“Following the recent crimes of the fake Zionist regime and the previous announcement that the crimes and evils of this vicious regime will not go unanswered, last night the ‘Strategic Center of Zionist Conspiracy and Evil’ was targeted by the powerful missiles of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the statement said.
A U.S. official also confirmed an area near the American consulate under construction in Erbil came under missile attack from Iran, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Video on social media shows what appears to be several missiles launched from Iran a short time before the assault on Erbil. A second video shows the purported missiles launched from Iran striking the vicinity of the consulate causing several blasts.
Erbil has previously been targeted by Iranian-backed Iraqi militias including a so-called Mossad site allegedly established there by Israel. However, this would be the first time the Islamic Republic has successfully targeted Erbil with ballistic missiles since the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Iran launches ‘ballistic missiles’ at U.S. bases in Iraq.]
Israeli airstrikes on March 7 in Damascus, Syria resulted in the death of two colonels belonging to the IRGC and two officers of the Syrian armed forces. The IRGC published a statement vowing it would respond to the death of its officers.
Despite the IRGC’s statement, the attack could have been targeting the under construction consulate which seems more plausible than an alleged Mossad base that has been claimed to exist in Erbil for some time now by Iran-backed actors in Iraq.
In late 2021, The New Times reported that an assault against a U.S. military base in southern Syria was Iran’s response to Israeli airstrikes against its forces operating in Syria. Quoting unnamed American officials, the report said, “Iran directed and supplied the proxy forces that carried out the attack.”
Sunday’s offensive could be a repetition of what occurred last year but with the important caveat that Iran did not use its proxies to carry out the strikes. By launching an attack within Iran’s borders, Tehran was sending a clear message who was responsible instead of using its proxies as plausible deniability.
The IRGC’s statement taking credit for assaulting a “strategic center of conspiracy and evil of the Zionists” doesn’t hold much water. By publishing a statement that it attacked an Israeli site instead of the American consulate under construction, Iran could be giving the U.S. administration a way out of responding since there was no reported damage to the site.
For the moment, the U.S. Department of State is downplaying the strikes saying it does not have “indications the attack was directed at the United States” and Israel has yet to officially comment on the events in Erbil.