Updated Jan 15, 2024 - World

Biden administration condemns Iranian attack near U.S. Consulate in Iraq

A boy wearing an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps uniform holding an Iran flag in front of weapons in Tehran. Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Biden administration denounced Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for launching missile strikes near the U.S. Consulate in Erbil in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday night.

The big picture: National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in an emailed statement Monday evening that U.S. officials had seen the report of the IRGC's claims that it took aim at an Israeli "espionage center" and other targets and noted no American personnel or facilities were targeted.

  • The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that the "ballistic missile attack" killed at least four civilians and wounded six others.
  • Watson said U.S. officials had "tracked the missiles, which impacted in northern Iraq and northern Syria."

Zoom in: The IRGC said in a statement it used ballistic missiles "to destroy espionage centres and gatherings of anti-Iranian terrorist groups in the region late tonight," per state media. The group said it also struck ISIS in Syria.

  • In a later statement carried by the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency, the IRGC claimed an Israeli "espionage center" in Erbil was among the targets.

What they're saying: "We have been in touch with senior Iraqi officials as well as officials in the Kurdistan Region," Watson said.

  • "Iran is claiming this is in response to the terrorist attacks in Kerman, Iran, and Rask, Iran, with a focus on ISIS," she added.
  • "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."

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a Monday night statement the U.S. "strongly condemns Iran's attacks in Erbil today and offers condolences to the families of those who were killed."

  • He added the U.S. opposed "Iran's reckless missile strikes, which undermine Iraq's stability" and supported the governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan region.

Separately, Erbil Gov. Omed Khoshnaw denounced what he called "a terrorist attack, an inhumane act that has been carried out" against the city, per the Iraqi Kurdish outlet Rûdaw.

Zoom out: Pro-Iranian militias have carried out more than 100 attacks against American forces in Syria and Iraq since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, with the U.S. conducting several strikes in retaliation.

Go deeper: Amid Gaza war, regional escalation draws U.S. deeper into Middle East crisis

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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