Middle East

Explosions reported near US Consulate in Iraq, as Iran fires missiles into the nation

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: News Corp Australia Network:
January 15, 2024 at 19:46

Explosions have reportedly been heard near a US Consulate amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

Explosions have reportedly been heard near the US Consulate in Iraq, as Iran fired ballistic missiles into the neighbouring nation amid rising tensions in the Middle East — only hours after a US-owned ship was struck in the Red Sea.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have launched missile attacks on multiple “terrorist” targets in Syria and in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, state media reported overnight.

A security source told the US ABC News that explosions were reported near the US Consulate in Erbil, Iraq. 

No coalition forces or American forces were killed but Iranian state media said the IRGC destroyed “a spy headquarters” and a “gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist groups” in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Guards later hit with ballistic missiles in Syria “gathering places of commanders and main elements related to recent terrorist operations particularly the Islamic State group”, their Sepah News service reported.
 

Footage from journalist Barzan Sadiq reportedly shows the rockets hit Erbil in Iraq. Picture: X
Footage from journalist Barzan Sadiq reportedly shows the rockets hit Erbil in Iraq. Picture: X


It added that the attack in Syria was in “response to the recent crimes of the terrorist groups that unjustly martyred a group of our dear compatriots in Kerman and Rask”.

On January 3, suicide bombers struck crowds gathered near the tomb of the revered IRGC general Qasem Soleimani in the southern city of Kerman.

The attack, for which the Islamic State group later claimed responsibility, killed around 90 people and left scores wounded.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said one of the suicide bombers was a Tajik citizen, while the identity of the other had yet to be determined.

In December, at least 11 Iranian police officers were killed in a jihadist-claimed attack on a police station in Rask, in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

That attack was claimed by Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) in a brief statement on its Telegram channel. The insurgency was formed in 2012 and is blacklisted by Iran as a “terrorist” group.
 

Iranian protesters burn an Israeli and a US flag during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Picture: ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian protesters burn an Israeli and a US flag during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Picture: ATTA KENARE / AFP


 
Supporters of pro-Iran factions wave various flags in Baghdad's Tahrir square, during a protest against the US and British forces strikes targeting Yemen's Huthi rebels, and against the presence of US forces in Iraq. Picture: Murtaja Lateef / AFP
Supporters of pro-Iran factions wave various flags in Baghdad's Tahrir square, during a protest against the US and British forces strikes targeting Yemen's Huthi rebels, and against the presence of US forces in Iraq. Picture: Murtaja Lateef / AFP


The IRGC also said it had struck an alleged Israeli target, announcing a “missile attack and the destruction of the Zionist regime’s spy headquarters (Mossad) in the Kurdistan region of Iraq”, IRNA reported.

“This headquarters has been the centre for developing espionage operations and planning terrorist actions in the region,” it said.

In November 2022, Iran had launched cross-border missile and drone strikes against Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups based in northern Iraq that it accuses of stoking a wave of protests in the Islamic republic.

The strikes came just after protests began in Iran over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurd arrested for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict dress code for women.

US-owned ship hit by missile

This all comes as Yemen’s Huthi rebels hit a US-owned cargo vessel with a missile overnight, the US military said, heightening fears for the volatile region after repeated attacks on shipping triggered American and British strikes.

After the Western strikes against scores of rebel targets last Friday, the Huthis said they would not be deterred and declared that US and British interests were “legitimate targets”.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Gibraltar Eagle suffered a fire on board but no casualties and remained seaworthy, the US Central Command said, after the latest attack in recent days.

“Iranian-backed Huthi militants fired an anti-ship ballistic missile from Huthi-controlled areas of Yemen and struck the M/V Gibraltar Eagle,” it posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“The ship has reported no injuries or significant damage and is continuing its journey,” added CENTCOM, which directs US military operations in the region.

Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree later said the rebels “carried out a military operation targeting an American ship” in the Gulf of Aden using “a certain number of appropriate naval missiles”.
 

US and British forces have struck rebel-held Yemen. Picture: Mohammed Huwais / AFP
US and British forces have struck rebel-held Yemen. Picture: Mohammed Huwais / AFP


A Huthi military and a Yemeni government source had told AFP that the insurgents fired three missiles on Monday.

An anti-ship ballistic missile launched earlier towards shipping lanes in the southern Red Sea failed in flight and crashed on land, CENTCOM said.

The incident in the Gulf of Aden, south of the Red Sea, comes a day after a Huthi cruise missile targeting a US destroyer was shot down by US warplanes.

Attacks by and against the Huthis, part of the “axis of resistance” of Iran-aligned groups, have raised concerns about violence spreading in the region from the Gaza war.

The Huthis say their attacks on Red Sea shipping are in solidarity with Gaza, where Iran-backed Hamas militants have been at war with Israel for more than three months.

Around 12 percent of global trade normally passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea’s entrance between southwest Yemen and Djibouti, but the rebel attacks have caused much shipping to be diverted thousands of miles around Africa.

On Monday, the US Department of Transportation recommended that US-linked commercial vessels not enter the southern Red Sea, warning of “a high degree of risk” from “potential retaliatory attacks”.

Keywords
Advertisement
You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second