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Iranian missiles bombarded the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) capital of Erbil and the city of Sulaymaniyah on Monday in apparent retribution for the Northern Iraqi region’s role in mass protests that are challenging Tehran’s authority at home.
IraqiNews reports that the missile bombardment set off warning sirens at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil and that fears are now of the possibility that Iran will send ground troops across the border into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
According to Kurdish media, several missiles and explosive-laden drones were launched by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from their base in the region, targeting the bases of exiled Kurdish opposition groups. Iran accuses these groups of fomenting the protests in Iran following the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman in the custody of “morality police” for a headscarf violation.
One member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) was killed in the attacks.
In a statement, KRG authorities said “Iran’s repeated violations of the sovereignty of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are inexcusable and a gross infringement of international law and neighborly relations.”
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has condemned the attacks as “indiscriminate”.
Tensions have been soaring further in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since an IRGC commander last week threatened that Iran would send in ground troops to decimate Iranian Kurdish opposition figures it accuses of hiding out in Iraq while continuing to foment unrest in Iran.
Tehran has been targeting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since the protests in Iran began on September 16th, so far killing at least a dozen people.
The attacks also coincide with an uptick in attacks by Turkey, which is targeting positions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it blames for a recent blast in Istanbul that claimed the lives of six people and wounded over 80 others.
The attacks highlight the already precarious position of Western oil companies operating in the KRG in contravention of the Iraqi federal government’s demands. Recently, the legal battle between Erbil and Baghdad has been calmed by the election of a new Iraqi government.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com