Kurds Demand Iraq Act After Iranian IRGC Bombing, Urge U.S. to Stay

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration outside the United Nations …
SAFIN HAMID/AFP via Getty Images

The central government of Iraq condemned Iran’s Monday night missile attack on the Kurdistan region as an act of “aggression” that violated Iraq’s national sovereignty.

Kurdish leaders want Baghdad to go much further against what they denounced as a war crime.

The tepid statement from Baghdad complained that Iran’s missile strike on the Kurdistan capital of Erbil caused civilian casualties and said its response may include filing a complaint with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry handed its statement to the Iranian charge d’affaires in Baghdad on Tuesday morning, describing it as a “strong condemnation and denunciation of the attack on a number of areas in Erbil that led to civilian casualties and damages to public and private properties.”

Iraq told Iran the attack “strongly contradicts with the principles of good neighborliness and international law and threatens the security of the region.” Later on Tuesday morning, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultations.

Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), gave a much angrier statement on Tuesday in which he called Iran’s attack “unjustifiable” and noted “several civilians have been martyred and wounded.”

One of those civilians was Peshraw Dizayee, a friend of the Barzani family and one of the most prominent businessmen in the KRG. Dizayee and his company, the Falcon Group, spearheaded projects in the oil, tech, and construction industries. He was most recently working on a major road project that would connect Iraq with Turkey and Europe.

According to local media reports, Dizayee was killed by one of Iran’s missiles, along with his youngest daughter, Zhina, and his friend, Karam Mikhail, an Iraqi Christian businessman. Zhina was ten days shy of her first birthday.

A protester holds a picture of a child’s body during a demonstration in Erbil, Iraq, where Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a missile attack on January 16, 2024. (SAFIN HAMID/AFP via Getty Images)

“My thoughts are with the families of the martyrs, and I wish the injured a quick recovery. I condemn this cowardly attack on the people of the Kurdistan Region in the strongest terms,” Barzani said.

Barzani called on the government in Baghdad to “take a principled position against the flagrant violation of Iraq’s and the Kurdistan Region’s sovereignty.” 

The prime minister further urged the international community to speak out against “repeated attacks against the people of Kurdistan,” pointing back to several attacks conducted by Iran’s Shiite militia proxies in Iraq against targets within the KRG.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) also condemned the Iranian missile strikes as a “blatant violation” of the sovereignty of both Iraq and the KRG.

“The IRGC said the attack targeted several positions of Iranian opposition groups. Unfortunately, they always use baseless excuses to attack Erbil,” the KRSC said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the theoretically controlled wing of the Iranian military and a designated terrorist organization, claimed its missiles were directed against Israeli intelligence bases and “anti-Iranian terrorist groups” in Erbil. The IRGC portrayed the missile attack as retaliation for the deadly Islamic State suicide bombing in Kerman, Iran, on January 3.

“In the next few days, we will work with our partners in the international community to stop these brutal attacks against our innocent people,” Barzani vowed.

Speaking from the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Barzani said Iran’s aggression demonstrated the need for U.S. forces to remain deployed in Iraq. 

This sharply contradicts the position of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who has blamed U.S. forces for increasing tensions and “destabilizing” Iraq. On January 7, Sudani demanded a “quick” withdrawal of all U.S. and allied troops.

Kurdish news service Rudaw recalled on Tuesday that Iran showered Erbil with ballistic missiles once before, in March 2022. The IRGC also claimed the 2022 attack targeted “the strategic center of the Zionist conspiracy and evil.”

The IRGC attack on Monday night caused explosions across Erbil, with at least five ballistic missiles hitting a residential community near the Erbil International Airport. As of Tuesday morning, the casualty count stood at four dead plus 17 wounded.

“This is a terrorist attack, an inhumane act that has been carried out against Erbil. Erbil will not be scared or shaken,” said Erbil Gov. Omed Khoshnaw.


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