Recently, Iran launched nearly a dozen Fateh-110 ballistic missiles at targets in Erbil, northern Iraq, close to the United States Consulate compound and a few dozen meters away from where we met with U.S. troops.
The attack injured at least two people and caused significant damage to several cars and properties, including to the Kurdistan 24 newsroom. This was not the first time something like this has occurred.
In fact, these recent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ strikes likely indicate that Iran is growing more emboldened and willing to directly target us with ballistic missiles.
They also heighten concerns about additional escalation amid the floundering efforts to revive the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The JPCOA is known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal and is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States — plus Germany) together with the European Union.
Does anyone see a connection between these ballistic missile attacks on US personnel, the JPCOA and current events with Russia and Ukraine?
The United States has been holding indirect talks with Iran aimed at bringing both nations back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was abandoned by former President Donald Trump. No date has been set for the next round of talks.
An Escalated Conflict
Hamdi Malik, an associate fellow at the Washington Institute and a specialist on Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, said the attacks were part of a coordinated escalation by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
Hamdi says, “It seems to me they have the green light from Iran to escalate, especially given that the nuclear negotiations are not going well. But at the same time, they do not want to escalate beyond a certain point — they are more vulnerable to U.S. airstrikes than they used to be — and they don’t want to overcomplicate the negotiations Iran is holding with the West.”
U.S. forces stationed in a section of the Erbil International Airport complex have in the past come under fire from rocket and drone attacks that Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but no such attacks have occurred for several months.
This recent attack, in which huge blasts shook windows of homes in Erbil after midnight, including our own, was a rare publicly declared assault by Tehran against the United States.
In claiming responsibility for the strike, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) declared that it had targeted “the strategic center of Zionist conspiracy and evil” in Erbil in retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed two IRGC officers in Damascus, Syria, last week. The IRGC vowed to respond with “harsh, decisive, and destructive responses” against any “further adventuristic and malevolent measures.”
Pro-Iranian media claimed the IRGC’s assault on Erbil had killed and wounded several members of Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, and that it was a response to an Israeli drone attack that “originated” in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In comments to the media, Erbil’s governor denied that Israel was present in the KRI.
The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials believe that the IRGC targeted “houses where a Mossad cell was suspected to have operated.”
Lies From the Media
So, the Iranians use this flimsy excuse to attack the U.S. by blaming Israel. And then a U.S. official validates the claim?
This is an embarrassing attempt by the Biden administration to deflect how weak they are perceived by our enemies. This is not the first time that Iran has claimed to have targeted Israeli intelligence assets in the KRI — similar reports were publicized in both the spring and fall of 2021. It gets worse.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price issued a statement calling the attack an “outrageous violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” but noted that there were “no indications the attack was directed at the United States.” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan similarly told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “no U.S. citizens were harmed … and no U.S. facilities were hit.”
This is ludicrous. American forces were directly targeted. And they will be targeted again.
Senior U.S. military leaders have previously acknowledged this reality after Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes on a joint U.S.-Iraqi airbase following IRGC Commander Qassim Soleimani’s killing in January 2020. The 2021 attacks on U.S. troops resulted in wounding over 100 U.S. servicemembers.
U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria are targeted and attacked a couple times each year, sometimes producing casualties, but mostly just causing damage.
Just a few months ago, the U.S. Embassy and other parts of the Green Zone in Baghdad were attacked by “terrorist groups.” The Green Zone is a heavily fortified area of Baghdad, Iraq that is home to various governmental buildings as well as several foreign embassies.
“The U.S. Embassy compound was attacked this evening by terrorist groups attempting to undermine Iraq’s security, sovereignty and international relations,” the embassy said. “We have long said that these sorts of reprehensible attacks are an assault not just on diplomatic facilities, but on the sovereignty of Iraq itself.”
This was not an attack by some generic “terrorist groups,” this was an attack by Iran. If we can’t even name our enemy, how do we expect to defeat them?
Don’t forget about the men and women in uniform that are out there defending America and her ideals from radical groups like ISIS and rogue leaders from Iran and other states. You can read more about them in my previous report.
What You Can Do
It can be easy to feel helpless knowing that these things are happening on the other side of the world. So what exactly can you do?
1. Pray for them.
We appreciate you keeping all of us in your prayers. Pray for our allies in the Middle East and for the men and women who are fighting daily to protect their communities. We believe that prayer is powerful and it can make a tremendous difference in these situations.
2. Stay up to date.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to join DIB, our Daily Intelligence Brief emails where you will receive the real news behind the news. This is where we will keep you up to date on all that is happening with this conflict and our teams around the world.
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Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers! Though we travel into dangerous places, God continues to guide us and show us favor, and we believe He will do it again and again!