Thirteen people were reportedly killed when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted groups in Iraqi Kurdistan with precision missiles and suicide drones on Wednesday morning, according to Reuters, in the latest in a series of attacks on Iraqi territory in recent days as Iranian officials place the blame for protests sweeping Iran on Kurdish groups.
A US citizen, Omar "Chicho" Mahmoudzadeh was killed in the strikes, according to UK-based Persian news network Iran International.
The IRGC claimed that it was launching the attacks against "separatist terrorist groups," naming the Komala Party and the Kurdistan Freedom Party. The IRGC added that it would continue the operation against the groups until "the threat is effectively repelled and the headquarters of terrorist groups are dismantled and the authorities of the region fulfill their obligations and responsibilities."
ببینە چۆن مووشەک ئاراستەی بارەگاکانی حزبی دیموکراتی کوردستانی ئێران لە کۆیە دەکرێن pic.twitter.com/xuwt6lbkFx— Kurdistan24 (@kurdistan24tv) September 28, 2022
IRGC Deputy Commander for Operations Abbas Nilforoushan told the Iranian Tasnim News Agency on Wednesday that the strikes against Iraqi Kurdistan were conducted against "counter-revolutionaries" who "attacked and infiltrated the country to create unrest and insecurity."
Nilforoushan claimed that the groups in Iraqi Kurdistan "played the biggest role" in the protests sweeping Iran in recent days.
US Army downs Iranian drone fired at Erbil
US Central Command (CENTCOM) said it shot down an Iranian drone aimed at Erbil on Wednesday, noting that the drone posed a threat to American personnel, according to Reuters.
"No US forces were wounded or killed as a result of the strikes and there is no damage to US equipment," CENTCOM said.
The Kurdish Rudaw news agency reported that the opposition Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), and Komala were targeted in Sulaimani and Erbil provinces, with at least seven people killed and over 20 injured.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the bombing by Iran on Wednesday afternoon, calling it a "dangerous development that threatens the security and sovereignty of Iraq, and multiplies the effects of fear and terror on the safe civilians."
"These provocative unilateral actions complicate the security scene and cast a shadow over the region and will only contribute to more tension."
Iran later admitted to firing a total of 70 rockets at Kurds in Iraq.
Protests continue in Iran
Largescale protests have broken out across Iran in the past week, after Mahsa Amini, 22, died after being arrested for wearing "unsuitable attire" by the morality police in Tehran, with witnesses stating that she was beaten while being transported to the police station. The authorities have said they would launch an investigation into the cause of death, but have largely called the incident an accident and denied any wrongdoing.
Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.