Two rockets targeted a large and important gas field in the Kurdistan autonomous region of northern Iraq. The gas field has been targeted in the past several times in similar attacks. Iranian-backed groups in Iraq have often used rockets and drones to target the Kurdistan region and US forces.
According to local reports, several rockets landed near the perimeter of the large Khor Mor gas field in the Sulaimaniya region of northern Iraq on Wednesday, Kurdish officials from the autonomous local government said. They did not immediately report any damage or casualties.
“Two rockets landed outside the field without causing any damage,” said one security source. The Pearl Consortium, United Arab Emirates energy firm Dana Gas, and its affiliate, Crescent Petroleum, have the rights to exploit Khor Mor and Chemchemal, two of the biggest gas fields in Iraq. Ahmed Mufti, Kurdistan Regional Government natural resources deputy minister, informed reporters about the rocket fire on Wednesday evening, according to Rudaw media in Erbil.
What is the Khor Mor gas field?
The gas field is located in Sulaimani province in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. This is near the town of Chamchamal and is on the road to Kirkuk, an area that is controlled by the Iraqi federal government. In recent months there have been tensions in Kirkuk between Iranian-backed militias and local Kurds. In 2017 Iranian-backed militias, working with Baghdad, attacked Kurdish forces in Kirkuk. The militias have been blamed in the past for rocket fire targeting Kurdish areas and coalition forces. There are also controversies in Iraq regarding energy exports.
The Kurdistan region will investigate the latest rocket fire.
In the past, reports said that the KRG wanted to construct a gas pipeline from the gas field to Dohuk, near the Turkish border. Back in January, an explosion was also reported when a Katyusha rocket was fired at the same gas field.
It was also targeted five times in 2022, according to local media Kurdistan24. It is one of the largest gas fields in the region and helps supply electric power plants for liquified natural gas in the region. As such it is very important. The partnership with the UAE and Dana Gas in the KRG means that the field represents a key strategic partnership with the Gulf. Pro-Iran groups may want to target this to harm the Kurdish region. However, Iran recently reconciled with Saudi Arabia and is not supposed to be targeting Gulf resources in Iraq.
In other news in Iraq, ISIS targeted Iraqi forces this week and killed a French soldier. Iran has also pressured Iraq to crack down on Kurdish dissident groups in and around Sulimaniya, such as the PDKI, Komala and others. Iran tensions with the Kurdish region could grow in September over this issue.
Reuters contributed to this report