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Kurdistan Accuses Kataib Hezbollah of Involvement in Erbil Drone Attack

Kurdistan Accuses Kataib Hezbollah of Involvement in Erbil Drone Attack

Friday, 10 June, 2022 - 05:45
Injured men lie on hospital beds at a triage ward in a hospital as they receive care for their wounds following an overnight attack in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, on June 8, 2022. (AFP)

The security council of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region accused the pro-Iran Kataib Hezbollah militia of involvement in the drone attack that targeted the town of Barda on the outskirts of the capital, Erbil, on Wednesday.

This is the first time Kurdish authorities openly accuse the militia of carrying out such attacks. In had previously blamed such incidents on armed factions without naming them.

The open accusation demonstrates the extent of outrage in the Region over the repeated attacks and is also seen as an attempt to pressure the Baghdad authorities to deter Kataib Hezbollah that are known to be hostile to Erbil.

The militia has often accused Kurdistan of harboring Israeli Mossad agents, echoing charges made by Iran.

Multiple attacks have taken place in the last several months in Erbil and in the Kurdistan region.

The most significant was in March, when Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed to have hit an Israeli "strategic center" in Erbil with 12 ballistic missiles.

Iraqi Kurdistan authorities deny any Israeli presence on their soil.

The strikes caused no casualties but inflicted serious material damage.

Unclaimed rocket attacks have also targeted and hit oil refineries in the Erbil region, causing minor property damage.

In a statement on Thursday, the Kurdish security council dismissed media reports by a "regional power" - a reference to Iran - that claimed the drone attack had targeted an Israeli agent and killed one person.

"They may be able to feed these lies to their public, but to the people of Erbil and the region who saw the attack themselves, these claims have become ridiculous," it added.

"The Kurdistan Region will never put itself in a position to threaten regional countries and at the same times, these countries must respect the sovereignty of the Region and its people and Iraq," it demanded.

Observers have noted that the frequency of the attacks has increased with the Kurdistan Democratic Party joining a political coalition with Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a rival of the Shiite pro-Iran Coordination Framework.

Iraqi forces are currently deadlocked over the formation of a new government due to disputes between Sadr and the Framework.

A spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah denied involvement in the drone attack.

In a tweet, he said that although the accusation is "honorable, we had no knowledge of the attack. They must discipline themselves and if they don't, we will."

Three people were injured and several car damaged in Wednesday's attack.

The explosive drone detonated on Pirmam road in Erbil's outskirts at 9:35 p.m. Iraq time.

Two security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the drone was shot down.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A security source said earlier that a drone attack targeted the US consulate but did not give further details.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi told Kurdish Prime Minister Masoud Barzani in a phone call that Baghdad will cooperate with Erbil to hold the perpetrators accountable.

"Bomb-laden drone hit Erbil-Pirmam road, causing civilian injuries and damage," the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said on Twitter. "Iraq does not need self-proclaimed armed arbiters. Asserting State authority is essential. If the perpetrators are known, call them out and hold them to account."

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