While everyone was paying attention to all of the missiles raining down on Ukraine last night, another missile strike was making headlines in a different country. Iran launched at least 5 or possibly as many as 12 “projectiles” (most likely Fateh-110 ballistic missiles) into Iraq, striking near the U.S. military base and consulate in Erbil. There weren’t any immediate reports of casualties and at least thus far there is no indication of any sort of retaliatory strike from the United States. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard eventually took credit for the attack. There were some rather dramatic videos of the strikes posted to social media already.
Footage of the missile attack in Erbil pic.twitter.com/zOec6Yvia2
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) March 12, 2022
It’s been confirmed that the missiles were launched from Seyed Al-Shohada barracks inside the borders of Iran.
This attack may have come in response to recent reports of a couple of Revolutionary Guard members being killed during an airstrike in Syria, reportedly carried out by Israel. Iran vowed “revenge” after that happened, so this would be a fairly typical response from them. But if you’re angry at Israel over something that happened in Syria, why attack an American base in Iraq? As Tyler Rogoway reports at The Drive, Iran wasn’t really attacking an American base. They were attacking a “secret Israeli base” in Iraq.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards took responsibility for the attack later on Sunday and warned Israel of a “harsh, decisive and destructive response” in case of future attacks, Iran’s state TV said. The attack reportedly targeted “secret Israeli bases.”
Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen news outlet cited Iranian sources as saying that the attack was not related to Israel’s alleged killing of two Iranian Revolutionary Guard members in Syria last week, but rather to other Israeli operations against Iranian targets.
The idea that Israel could have a “secret base” in Erbil, particularly without us knowing about it, is too ridiculous to waste much time on. There is no doubt that Israel has plenty of intelligence assets in the region and that they can and do take offensive action when required. They need to be on top of their intelligence game when dealing with a nation that constantly threatens to wipe them from the face of the earth. But they aren’t building secret bases in Iraq, sorry. Iran is clearly just saying that to justify their provocative actions.
The State Department issued a response later in the evening, but it was just about as milquetoast as could be imagined. The statement said that there were no casualties or damage at the U.S. facilities there. They condemned the “display of violence” but said that Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government were investigating the “incident” and referred all questions to them.
That’s an awfully low-key response to that large of a military strike close to one of our consulates inside of Iraq. Why do you suppose that might be? I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to suspect that the Biden administration is still hoping to finalize a deal with Iran that was brokered by Russia, despite that being just about the worst idea ever. And if that’s still on the table, they probably don’t want to stir the pot too much by calling out Iran for showering Iraq with massive missiles. If that’s the case, this just simply embarrassing to watch. But it’s probably also par for the course with this administration, so here we are.