(Photo credit: Middle East Monitor)
On 13 March, the leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr called for an investigation into Iran’s claim that there are Israeli intelligence sites operating within the country.
“Allegations about Israeli sites shall be investigated as soon as possible … These should not be used to undermine Iraq’s security,” Al-Sadr said in a statement.
On 13 March, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Council (IRGC) claimed responsibility for an attack on Mossad bases in Erbil that morning, although initial reports from the Iraqi News Agency (INA) said that the attack targeted the newly built US consulate in the city.
The attack came in retaliation for an Israeli strike in Syria on 7 March, which left two IRGC officers dead.
“We condemn all attacks launched from Iraq to target neighboring countries, as well as the external interference or any attacks targeting sovereign Iraq,” Al-Sadr added, emphasizing that the Iranian attack was “a dangerous precedent that should not be repeated.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, accompanied by other Iraqi officials, arrived in Erbil on 14 March to survey the aftermath of the Iranian attack. Al-Kadhimi was received at Erbil International Airport by the prime minister of the self-governed Kurdistan region, and later met with its former president, Masoud Barzani.
On 13 March, the Iraqi government announced in a statement that Kadhimi held a phone conversation with US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. The two reportedly discussed regional and international issues, among other things, but did not touch upon the attack in Erbil.
According to reports, a number of Mossad agents were killed in the attack, while several others sustained serious injuries. The bases were allegedly being used as training centers by the Israeli intelligence agency.
According to a senior Iranian official, “the Israelis were using the facility to train saboteurs for attacks against Iran and Iranians.”
In a statement made on 13 March, the IRGC said that it had targeted a “strategic center of the Zionist regime’s conspiracies and wickedness,” adding that any “repetition of attacks by Israel will be met with a harsh, decisive, and destructive response.”