Kurdish officials: death toll rises in Iranian drone attack

KOYA, Iraq — An Iranian drone bombing campaign targeting the bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq on Wednesday killed at least nine people and injured 32 others, the government’s health ministry said. Kurdish regional.

The strikes came as protests continued to sweep through the Islamic Republic following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd in Iranian morality police custody.

Iran’s attacks targeted Koya, about 65 kilometers (35 miles) east of Erbil, said Soran Nuri, a member of Iran’s Kurdistan Democratic Party. The group, known by the acronym KDPI, is a banned left-wing armed opposition force in Iran.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government condemned the strikes.

Iran’s IRNA news agency and broadcaster said the country’s Revolutionary Guards had targeted the bases of a separatist group in northern Iraq with “precision missiles” and “suicide drones”.

General Hasan Hasanzadeh of the Revolutionary Guards said 185 Basijis, a volunteer force, were injured by “machetes and knives” during the unrest, state news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday. Hasanzadeh also said rioters broke the skull of one of the Basij members. He added that five Basijis are hospitalized in intensive care.

The Iranian drone strikes targeted a military camp, houses, offices and other areas around Koya, Nuri said. Nuri described the attack as ongoing.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said the government in Baghdad should summon the Iranian ambassador to file a diplomatic complaint about the strikes.

In Baghdad, four Katyusha rockets landed in the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday as lawmakers gathered in parliament.

The Iraqi army said in a statement earlier that one rocket landed near the parliament building, another near the parliament guest house and a third at a junction near the Judiciary Council. Two security officials told the AP that the fourth rocket also landed near parliament.

The office of acting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said in a statement that security forces were pursuing the attackers who fired the rockets and asked protesters to remain peaceful.

Mobile phone footage circulating on social media showed smoke billowing from a car park near the Parliament building.

Earlier, lawmakers voted to renew their confidence in Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Halbousi, rejecting his request to resign. Halbousi was initially elected as a candidate by parliamentarians backed by populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr’s 73 MPs resigned last June to protest a political stalemate.

It was the first time lawmakers had met after al-Sadr supporters stormed the parliament building in July, delaying the government formation process.

The area, which also houses the US embassy in Iraq, is a frequent target of rocket and drone attacks that the US blames on Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

Following the first series of strikes in northern Iraq, Iran then shelled seven positions in the Koya stronghold in Qala, a KDPI official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to s express publicly. The Qala region includes the political office of the party.

An Associated Press reporter saw ambulances drive through Koya after the strikes. Smoke rose from the site of an apparent strike as security forces sealed off the area.

Meanwhile, security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Iranian Kurds protesting in Sulimaniyah.

On Saturday and Monday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards unleashed a wave of drone and artillery strikes targeting Kurdish positions.

The attacks appear to be a response to ongoing protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was detained by the National Vice Police.

The US State Department called the Iranian attacks an “unwarranted violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“We are also aware of reports of civilian casualties and mourn any loss of life caused by today’s attacks,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “Furthermore, we further condemn the Iranian government’s comments threatening further attacks on Iraq.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said in a tweet that the country cannot be treated as the region’s “backyard” where neighbors regularly and with impunity violate its sovereignty.”

“Rocket diplomacy is a reckless act with devastating consequences,” the UN agency said.

The UN secretary-general called on Iran early Wednesday to refrain from using “unnecessary or disproportionate force” against protesters as unrest over the death of a young woman in police custody escalated. spread throughout the country.

Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that authorities should quickly carry out an impartial investigation into Amini’s death, which sparked unrest in Iranian provinces and the capital of Tehran.

“We are increasingly concerned by reports of a growing number of deaths, including of women and children, linked to the protests,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. a statement. “We stress the need for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into the death of Ms Mahsa Amini by an independent competent authority.

Protests have spread to at least 46 cities and towns in Iran. State television reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the protests began on September 17.

A tally of official statements by authorities from the Associated Press showed at least 14 dead and more than 1,500 protesters arrested.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it documented the arrests of at least 23 journalists as clashes between security forces and protesters escalated.

CPJ, in a statement Wednesday, called on Iranian authorities to “immediately” release arrested journalists who covered Amini’s death and protests.

Dujarric added that Guterres stressed the need to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association during the meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on September 22.

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