In a statement released after the attack, the State Department said, “We condemn this outrageous attack and display of violence,” and confirmed that no U.S. personnel or facilities had been damaged.
Lawk Ghafuri, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government, confirmed that 12 missiles had struck Erbil and claimed that they had been launched “from outside Iraq” and produced no casualties.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stopped short of attributing the attack but condemned the “aggression which targeted the dear city of Erbil and spread fear amongst its inhabitants.” He called it “an attack on the security of our people” and pledged to investigate it.
Social media users in Erbil posted clips of apparent missile strikes in Erbil followed by large explosions. Kurdistan24, a local news channel with a studio near the scene of the strike, also broadcast footage of broken glass and damage at its offices near what the outlet claimed was a missile attack.
Iranian-backed militia media outlets quickly claimed that the attack was carried out by Iran using Fateh-110 short range ballistic missiles. Social media users in Iran also posted videos of what appeared to be missiles streaking through the sky in towns and cities near Iran’s border with Iraq.
Iran has not claimed responsibility for the attack, and semi official Iranian news outlets have instead amplified claims by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. Fars News, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, tweeted out clips from Sabreen News, a popular Iranian-backed militia Telegram channel, which noted that security camera footage showed the missiles struck at 1:20 a.m., the same time that missiles from a U.S. drone killed Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. The caption said that the timing was “not accidental at all.”
Iran has twice before launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi targets. In September 2018, the IRGC’s Aerospace Force launched short range ballistic missiles at a facility belonging to the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed separatist group that has called for an independent Kurdish homeland in Iran. In January 2020, Iran also attacked U.S. forces with a ballistic missile strike on Al-Asad airbase in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.
Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here