U.S. Looks Into Iraq Attack After Iran Says Israel Killed Colonels in Syria

The U.S. military is tracking reports of a missile attack near Washington's consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil days after two Iranian colonels were reportedly killed during an airstrike in Syria that was blamed on Israel.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek that the Defense Department was "looking into the reported attack near Erbil," but did not provide any details.

A spokesperson for Iran's permanent mission to the United Nations told Newsweek there was no information so far on the event.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government's Directorate General of Counter Terrorism reported that 12 ballistic missiles targeted near the U.S. consulate in Erbil and were launched outside of Iraq's borders to the east, where Iran is located.

News and purported footage of the strike were shared widely on social media on Saturday afternoon, early Sunday local time.

Rocket attacks have targeted U.S. positions in Iraq for years and have sometimes drawn U.S. strikes against pro-Iran militia positions, most recently ordered by President Joe Biden last June.

But Iran has not directly fired missiles on U.S. positions since January 2020, days after former President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guard also vowed to take revenge Wednesday after it said two of its colonels were killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus, where they were said to be supporting the Syrian government's "counterterrorism efforts."

The pledge was reiterated in a letter sent by Iran to the U.N. Security Council the following day.

"While recognizing that the Israeli regime is fully responsible for all the consequences of these criminal acts, and seriously warning the regime about taking further adventuristic and malevolent measures, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its inherent right to self-defence, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, to respond to such criminal act whenever it deems appropriate," the letter read.

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency linked the two events in Iraq and Syria in a report Saturday, hinting that the timing was not a coincidence, and that a training center for Israeli spy agency Mossad was the target. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the target was the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

The Israel Defense Forces told Newsweek it does "not comment on reports in the foreign press."

The latest escalation comes amid a pause in negotiations over efforts to restore U.S. participation in a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Trump in 2018. Israel has opposed the accord since its inception though parties appeared close to reaching a long-awaited resolution until an abrupt break, apparently prompted by the Russian demands for assurances that no sanctions would interrupt trade between Moscow and Tehran as the Kremlin garners political and economic backlash for its war in Ukraine.

Erbil, Air, Base, Iraq
The sun sets at Erbil Air Base, Iraq on June 7, 2021. Sergeant 1st Class Ryan Sheldon/40th Combat Aviation Brigade/U.S. Department of Defense