In the news – The escalation continues
Iranian strikes this week come amid escalating tensions in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, which has led to proxy conflicts between each side’s allies — notably between the U.S., which backs Israel, and Iran, which supports Hamas. Iran’s allies in the region, particularly the Houthi rebels in Yemen, have in recent months launched dozens of attacks targeting ships in the strategic Red Sea bound for Israel. The U.S. and U.K. launched a major retaliation against Yemen’s Houthis last week, in what some fear could spiral into a wider regional war.
The Strike on Iraq
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they attacked the “spy headquarters” of Israel in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, state media reported late on Monday, while the elite force said they also struck in Syria against Daesh (ISIS).
The strikes come amid concerns about the escalation of a conflict that has spread through the Middle East since the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas began on Oct. 7, with Iran’s allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“In response to the recent atrocities of the Zionist regime, causing the killing of commanders of the Guards and the Axis of Resistance … one of the main Mossad espionage headquarters in Iraq’s Kurdistan region was destroyed with ballistic missiles,” the Guards said in a statement.
Iraq condemned on Tuesday Iran’s “aggression” on Irbil that led to civilian casualties in residential areas, according to a statement by the country’s foreign ministry. Iraqi government will take all legal measures against these actions that are considered a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and the security of its people, including filing a complaint at the United Nations Security Council, said the statement.
Iran had vowed revenge for the killing of three members of the Guards in Syria last month, including a senior Guards commander, who had served as military advisers there. Earlier this month, Daesh claimed responsibility for two explosions in Iran’s southeastern Kerman city that killed nearly 100 people and wounded scores at a memorial for top commander Qassem Soleimani.
In addition to the strikes northeast of Kurdistan’s capital Irbil in a residential area near the US consulate, the Guards said they “fired a number of ballistic missiles in Syria and destroyed the perpetrators of terrorist operations” in Iran, including Daesh.
The US State Department condemned the attacks near Irbil, calling them “reckless,” but officials said no US facilities were targeted and there were no US casualties.
ABC News reported that coalition forces also shot down three drones near Erbil airport—the latest in increasing drone attacks in the area, where U.S. and other international forces are stationed. Air traffic at the airport has been suspended, the airport confirmed to Rudaw. – Iran Fires Missiles at Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan
Iran, which supports Hamas in its war with Israel, accuses the United States of backing what it calls Israeli crimes in Gaza. The US has said it backs Israel in its campaign but has raised concerns about the number of Palestinian civilians killed.
Iran has in the past carried out strikes in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, saying the area is used as a staging ground for Iranian separatist groups as well as agents of its arch-foe Israel.
The Strike on Syria
The IRGC also launched a separate missile attack that struck targets in Syria, the group said in a statement on Monday. That attack targeted those allegedly involved in a bombing in Kerman. The attack in Kerman killed at least 84 people and wounded an additional 284 at a ceremony honoring Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Last month, Iran accused Israel of killing a high-ranking Iranian general, Seyed Razi Mousavi, in an airstrike on a Damascus neighborhood.
Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have launched near-daily drone attacks on bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, which the groups have said was in retaliation for Washington’s support of Israel, and in an attempt to force U.S. troops to leave the region.
The Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani asserted that the strikes were conducted “in defence of (Iranian) sovereignty and security” and as a countermeasure against terrorism. Kanaani emphasised the precision of the operation, stating that ballistic missiles were used to identify and strike the “headquarters of criminals.” This recent attack on Idlib marks the first time Iran has struck western Syria, representing one of the longest-range ballistic missile attacks in the country’s history. The situation has raised concerns about the potential for the Israeli military campaign in Gaza to escalate into a full-scale war in the Middle East, with potentially catastrophic humanitarian, political, and economic consequences.
The Strike on Pakistan
Pakistan is the third country targeted by Iranian strikes after Iraq and Syria in the last few days. Two strongholds of the Balochi militant group Jaish al Adl, Sunni Salafist militant group, were hit by missiles and drones from the neighbouring nation. But what is Iran’s big plan?
Iran-backed proxy groups are creating trouble in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, taking on the US military, and attacking shipping lanes in the Red Sea. In the latest provocation, it has struck targets in Pakistan.
We take a look at what happened in Pakistan, the possibility of the war spreading and Iran’s interest in the region.
Iran said that it used “precision missile and drone strikes” to destroy two strongholds of the militant group in the Kouh-Sabz area of Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province, according to Iran’s state-aligned Tasnim news agency, reports CNN.
Last month, Iran accused militants of the group of storming a police station, resulting in the deaths of 11 Iranian police officers in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan, the Iranian state media claims.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry warns Iran of “serious consequences”, it described the strike as an “unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran … inside Pakistani territory.”
“This violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is completely unacceptable and can have serious consequences,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Iranian news agency Mehrnews said the “missile and drone response” targeted the Jaish al-Adl group’s headquarters in Pakistan, calling it “another decisive step taken by Iran in response to the aggression against the security of our country.”
China, close partners of Iran and Pakistan, urged restraint, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning saying both should “avoid actions that would lead to an escalation of tension.”
Arab News – Iran says Revolutionary Guards attack Israel’s ‘spy HQ’ in Iraq, vow more revenge
MSN – Iran Fires Missiles at Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan, Killing at Least 6 Civilians: What to Know
MSN – Iran strikes targets in northern Iraq and Syria as regional tensions escalate
Big News Network – Iran defends “precise and targeted” strikes in Iraq, Syria amid regional tensions
First Post – Iraq, Syria and now Pakistan: How Iran is at the centre of escalating tensions in West Asia