Iraq finds no evidence of Mossad link in Erbil attack

Tehran attacked a site in the Kurdish city it said was being used by Israel

A damaged building in the aftermath of missile attacks in Erbil, Iraq, on March 13, 2022. Reuters
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Baghdad has not found evidence to support Iran’s claims that an Israeli intelligence centre was based in Erbil, officials said on Monday.

Last month, Tehran took responsibility for missile strikes on the northern Iraq city, saying it had hit an Israeli “strategic centre”.

Missiles struck a villa owned by Baz Karim Barzanji, a Kurdish businessman. He runs the KAR Group, which operates the largest oil refinery in the Kurdish region, among a portfolio of projects that includes water and power.

Speculation had surfaced as to why his house was struck in the attack, which left much of the mansion in ruins and damaged a nearby TV studio.

Iran initially said it was in retaliation for the deaths of two members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria in an alleged Israeli air strike.

Officials in Baghdad who are following the investigation into the attacks said “Tehran had informed them of its anger about the presence of Iranian opposition in the Kurdistan region but did not mention Mossad until after the attacks”.

“Iraq had demanded that the Iranians support their allegations about Israel with evidence that can be examined,” an official told Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.

Another official said claims by the former Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, that Mossad has a base in the north were not sufficient.

“We have only seen accusations and speculation,” said the second official.

The IRGC confirmed it had fired the projectiles, and claimed its targets were sites used by Israel.

A “strategic centre for conspiracy and mischief of the Zionists was targeted by powerful precision missiles fired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”, the IRGC said in a statement.

Iraq had opened an investigation into the attack and had sent a technical team to inspect the target house but did not find any evidence to support the Iranian accusations.

An official said the rubble revealed “an unsuspecting civilian building”.

Officials with links to the investigation said they “were frustrated with the way Iran was formulating dangerous allegations, during highly sensitive local and regional circumstance”.

Iran has claimed that there are more than “three military divisions” of opposition groups in the Kurdistan region near the border.

“The investigators felt they were dealing with a narrative that is not based on facts,” the Iraqi official said.

Updated: April 18, 2022, 6:15 PM