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Iran claims responsibility for strikes in Iraq

Iran claims responsibility for strikes in Iraq

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for an attack on what it called an Israeli spy base in Iraq as large explosions were reported in the city of Erbil on Tuesday morning.

The IRGC early Tuesday local time fired at the “espionage headquarters and gatherings of anti-Iranian terrorist groups” in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil and destroyed the targets, according to a statement from the military wing.

Iran has long said that Israel operates a secret base used by spy agency Mossad in the city of Erbil. There was no immediate comment from Israel on the claimed strike.

The Hill could not independently confirm the IRGC’s claims. But a U.S. defense official said explosions were reported in the area of Erbil.

“We have seen the reports, and we tracked the missiles, which impacted in northern Iraq and northern Syria,” said White House national security council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. “No US personnel or facilities were targeted. We have been in touch with senior Iraqi officials as well as officials in the Kurdistan Region. Iran is claiming this is in response to the terrorist attacks in Kerman, Iran and Rask, Iran, with a focus on ISIS. We will continue to assess the situation, but initial indications are that this was a reckless and imprecise set of strikes. The United States supports the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq.”

The U.S. operates a consulate in Erbil and some troops are stationed at the city’s Harir Air Base along with allied fighters in Iraq.

Washington is not reporting any injuries or damage to infrastructure at any American bases, according to the defense official.

The reported strike comes as the Middle East is flaring up amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, with Iranian-backed groups fighting U.S. and Israeli forces across the region.

Iran has largely battled the U.S. and its ally, Israel, through proxy forces in Lebanon and Yemen, and the IRGC strike is the most direct attack yet in the war.

Israel says it is fighting a multi-arena war and in late December killed a senior IRGC official in Syria.

Separately, the IRGC said it struck the ISIS commanders responsible for a deadly bombing in Iran earlier this month. That strike hit targets in Syria, according to the IRGC.

ISIS claimed responsibility for killing nearly 100 people in the Iranian city of Kerman while supporters had gathered for a memorial service on the anniversary of the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

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