Iran Ambassador to Iraq says “Missile attack on Erbil not a violation of Iraqi sovereignty”

Shkoi Kurdistan-

Iranian ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi said on Monday that the missile attack on Erbil was not a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, in stark contrast to Iraqi and Kurdish leaders who have condemned the attack as an act of terror. 

Masjedi’s comments appear to directly contradict his remarks made to Rudaw in an interview earlier last year, in which he blasted Ankara for carrying out extensive bombardment of Iraqi territory.  

Iran fired a dozen ballistic missiles at around 1:00 am on Sunday morning, hitting several targets on the outskirts of Erbil. Kurdish authorities confirmed that two civilians suffered minor injuries as a result. The timing of the attack was deliberate and it was a reference to the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani in the early hours of January 3, 2020, at Baghdad airport.  

“We respect the sovereignty of Iraq and hold the sovereignty of Iraq and its government in high regards … the recent missile attack on Erbil was not against the sovereignty of Iraq but a reaction to the Zionists and the Mossad spy base,” Masjedi said during an Islamic conference in Karbala on Monday where Iranian and Iraqi scholars participated, reported Iran’s state media IRNA. 

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly said that there are no Israeli bases in the Kurdistan region and on Sunday invited both local and international media to visit the sites of the attacks where civilian residences were extensively damaged as a result of the impact of the missiles.

In the past decade, the IRGC media outlets and commanders have consistently accused Kurdistan Region authorities of harboring Israeli spies without producing a shred of evidence to back up their claims. Iran also accuses the Kurdish opposition groups based in the Kurdistan Region of being at the service of Zionists.  

Iran attacked the Americans in Ain al-Assad because they killed Abu Mahdi Muhandis and Soleimani, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq said. “We had a reaction against America in Ain al-Assad and the target was not Iraqi sovereignty but a response to the Americans.”

The ambassador’s statement on his country’s missile attack on Erbil contradict the comments he made to Rudaw in February 2021 when he criticized Turkey for bombing Iraq.

At the time, his remarks kicked off a diplomatic spat between both countries.

“We reject military intervention in Iraq and Turkish forces should not pose a threat or violate Iraqi soil,” Masjedi said last year. “The security of the Iraqi area should be maintained by Iraqi forces and [Kurdistan] Region forces in their area.”

Masjidi claimed on Monday that the Kurdistan Region authorities “established a base for the Israelis and from there they acted against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s security. The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot compromise on its security. We warned the officials of the [Kurdistan] Region, but unfortunately this base started plotting against our security and the Islamic Republic acted against it.”

Iran has not produced any evidence to show that there are Israeli bases in the Kurdistan Region. 

Masjedi added that Iran “wanted you to kick them [Israelis] out from this region but this did not happen, we can’t sit and do nothing while Israelis plot against our security, this reaction [missile attack] was against the Zionists and not Americans of Iraq.”

This time, Turkey slammed Iran indirectly for its attack on Erbil, with a statement from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying the attack was aimed to “disrupt peace and stability in Iraq.” It added that such attacks are “totally unacceptable.”

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, said in a weekly press conference on Monday that “It is not acceptable at all that one of our neighbors which has deep relations with us, becomes the focal point of threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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