Late on January 15th, Iran took responsibility for the missile strikes in the Kurdish region of Iraq earlier that day. According to their statement, the strikes were exclusively targeting spy headquarters as well as an anti-Iranian terrorist group that had gathered in the area. With ten missiles landing in the area just outside of the US consulate, four civilians died, and six more were wounded.
Multimillionaire and local businessman Pershraw Dizayi and his family members died when a rocket struck their home. Close friends of the Kurdish leader, their deaths were announced by a former deputy speaker of Iraqi Kurdistan’s parliament, Hemin Hawrami, via Twitter/X. A second rocket targeted an unnamed senior Kurdish intelligence official, with a third striking a Kurdish intelligence center. According to US officials, no US facilities were struck or damaged in the attack.
According to an anonymous Iranian-backed Iraqi militia’s leader, the ten missiles launched from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were targeting an affluent area near the consulate.
In a statement supporting these claims, Iran also outlined their major Israeli target inside Iraq. “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.” They also claimed responsibility for a concurrent attack in Syria targeting Islamic State locations, “and destroyed them by firing a number of ballistic missiles.”
Previously Iran had vowed to avenge the deaths of three of the Guard’s members who had been stationed in Syria as advisors the month prior. In a statement, they declared, “We assure our nation that the Guards’ offensive operations will continue until avenging the last drops of martyrs’ blood.”
With the Israelis and Hamas/Palestine engaged in a brutal and devastating conflict, many had wondered if the fight could spill out into neighboring countries. Quickly it was discovered and publicized that the Iranians were funding and arming Hamas fighters to ensure they could bring the fight to the Israelis. Seeing how quickly that was successful, they were only emboldened to continue their funding by spreading out across the region. They also gave significantly more funding and support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Continuously involved in conflicts with multiple groups, the Houthis are well-trained for their continued mission in the Red Sea, and with Iranian support, they are now well-funded and supplied. From intel to missiles to radar, the Iranians have been handing over whatever the Houthis want in the hopes of further destabilizing the region. Claiming that they are only targeting Israeli ships and those carrying Israeli assets, the Houthis claim they are being diplomatic in their strikes. Footage of the attacks however tells a vastly different story.
For US service members stationed at the US Embassy in Baghdad, in Erbil, and other combat outposts across Iraq, the thought of returning to war is daunting. Assigned there in an “advise and assist” capacity, many of these troops haven’t been trained up in the kind of ground warfare and combat they could quickly find themselves in. While they may know the terrain and what groups are working with whom, the influx of Iranian supplies and interests makes that intel worthless.
While Iraq has yet to launch a full-scale response against the Iranians or their rebel forces in the country, they certainly have a responsibility to respond. Especially since they have failed to bring the country into full stability as they claimed they could. While little in the way of terrorism has been reported to originate from the country in recent years, what has come out has been incredibly devastating, to say the least.
Any way you slice it, these attacks will necessitate more responses from US and coalition troops and a massive surge in forces in the region. Without a strategic and devastating response in short order, we could easily be looking at the start of WWIII playing out before our very eyes.