Iran warned on Friday that it will carry out attacks in Iraq until it disarms Iranian Kurdish opposition groups it accuses of triggering unrest in the country.
At least 14 people were killed, including an American citizen, when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched missiles and drones at Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region on Wednesday.
Iran precisely fired 73 ballistic missiles and 20 drones laden with explosives towards Iraq's northern region.
The Guard said it was using “all kinds of missiles, kamikaze and combat drones” in the operations against bases and headquarters of it they called “terrorists”, in statement late on Thursday.
“These operations will continue until the terrorist groups are disarmed and we ask the central government and the government of the northern region of Iraq to show more seriousness in their responsibilities towards Iran as a neighbour,” the statement said.
The Guard has accused Iraq-based Kurdish groups of “attacking and infiltrating Iran … to sow insecurity and riots and spread unrest”.
Iraq responded by summoning the Iranian ambassador, Mohammad Kadhim Al Sadiq, who was handed a “strongly worded letter of protest”.
Baghdad's foreign ministry said “we will not keep quiet about Iran's aggression and the violation of Iraq's sovereignty”.
The ministry said in its statement that civilians were among those killed. It added that the Iraqi government condemned “this crime, which represented the continuation of Iranian forces’ encroachment on Iraq’s sovereignty.”
Unrest across the country erupted on September 16 after the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody, and demonstrations that have yet to subside.
She was from Iran’s western Kurdish region, which borders Iraq.
Amini was detained for allegedly wearing a hijab in an “improper” way.
Activists and human rights groups say that at least 84 protesters have been killed by Iranian security forces during the past two weeks of unrest.
Protests have rocked especially Kurdish communities in western Iran that share strong connections with Kurdish-inhabited areas of Iraq.
The statement came as videos circulated on social media with sounds of shots in the background, showing people in Zahedan, capital of the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, covered in blood and being carried.
It came after Friday prayers in which worshippers were targeted by Iranian security forces.
Numbers of injuries are unknown.
An influential Iranian cleric called for tough action against the protesters, who have called for the downfall of ruling clerics.
“Our security is our distinctive privilege. The Iranian people demand the harshest punishment for these barbaric rioters,” said Imam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari, a leader of prayers that are held on Fridays in Tehran before a large gathering.
“The people want the death of Mahsa Amini to be cleared up … so that enemies cannot take advantage of this incident.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Wednesday that the death of Amini had “saddened” everyone in the Islamic Republic, but warned that “chaos” would not be accepted amid spreading protests.