(Photo credit: AP Photo/ Ahmed Mzoori, Metrography)
On 14 March, a senior US official reportedly confirmed that the building struck by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iraq on 13 March was an Israeli training site, contradicting initial reports by Iraqi media saying that the attack targeted the US consulate in Erbil.
New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi made the revelation on Twitter, saying the US official claimed that “the building struck by IRGC ballistic missiles also served as an Israeli training facility. The US consulate was not targeted but the IRGC doesn’t mind that it was nearby.”
New: A senior US official briefed on the Erbil attack told my colleague @EricSchmittNYT the building struck by IRGC ballistic missiles also served as an Israeli training facility. The US consulate was not targeted but the IRGC doesn’t mind that it was nearby, the official said.
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) March 14, 2022
A day later, however, Fassihi said that another US official “refuted the earlier comment,” and that the White House stands by its claim that the targeted building “was a civilian residence only and did not also serve as an Israeli training site.”
The leadership of the autonomous Kurdish region of Erbil has been known to enjoy friendly relations with Israel, even selling oil to Tel Aviv.
A number of Iraqi leaders have called for investigations into possible Mossad activity within the city.
“Allegations about Israeli sites shall be investigated as soon as possible,” the leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, said in a statement on 13 March.
During a meeting with Iraq’s Foreign Ministry on 13 March, the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, warned that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to launch more attacks against “Israeli strategic centers” within Erbil.
An anonymous source stated that Masjedi also submitted documents to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry claiming that Israeli drones launched from Erbil in mid-February were responsible for an attack inside Iran.
According to a senior Iranian security source who spoke exclusively to The Cradle, three Israeli targets were killed and seven others sustained critical injuries from the attack.
The source went on to describe the Mossad base in Erbil as “unofficial and hidden – in the form of two villas that had a normal appearance.”
“The structure of these two villas had two roofs that completely protected it from 240mm missiles. An explosion-proof engineering roof under a shock-absorbing roof that had two layers under the gable roof,” the official said.
Tehran has reportedly also issued a warning to Kurdish leaders that any sites within Erbil that continue to harbor Israeli spies will be targeted within a month if they are not evacuated.