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No casualties reported after missiles strike near U.S. consulate in northern Iraq

CBSNews | According to Iraqi security officials, up to 12 missiles were fired near the US consulate in Irbil on Sunday. According to a US defense official, missiles fired from Iran were fired against the city.

No injuries or casualties were recorded, according to a representative for the US State Department, and no damage to the US facility, which is new and now empty. One of the missiles hit close to the Kurdistan24 TV station's broadcasting location. Shortly after, the station went on the air, showing shattered glass and debris on their studio floor.

Initially, an Iraqi official in Baghdad claimed that three missiles had hit the US consulate, which was the intended objective of the strike. Later, Lawk Ghafari, the head of Kurdistan's international media office, reported that none of the missiles reached the US facility, but that the rockets impacted locations near the compound.

The number of missiles fired and where they fell is still unknown, according to a US defense official who spoke to The Associated Press.

There were no initial reports of casualties from the incident, which occurred just after midnight and caused material damage in the region, Iraqi security officials told the Associated Press. They talked on the condition of anonymity, as required by law.

Ballistic missiles were fired from Iran, according to one Iraqi official, who did not elaborate. The type of missile could not be confirmed by US officials.

The act is being investigated by the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government, according to a State Department representative, who also criticized the "outrageous attack against Iraqi sovereignty and display of violence."

The attack came just days after two members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard were killed in an Israeli strike near Damascus, Syria. Iran's foreign ministry condemned the incident and pledged retaliation on Wednesday.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said on Sunday that Iraqi media acknowledged the strikes in Irbil, but did not identify where they came from.

Irbil was hit "with a number of missiles" early Sunday, according to a security statement, which added that security officials were investigating the incident and would give more details later.

The incident occurred as talks in Vienna over Iran's shattered nuclear accord came to a "halt" due to Russian demands for penalties on Russia for its war in Ukraine.

Iran and Iranian-backed militias are increasingly threatening US troops and partners in Iraq and Syria, according to the top US commander for the Middle East.

While US forces in Iraq have changed to a non-combat mission, Marine General Frank McKenzie told The Associated Press in December that Iran and its proxies still want all American troops out of the country. As a result, he claims, this could lead to additional attacks.'

Last July, the Biden administration announced that the US combat mission in Iraq would be ended by December 31, and US soldiers steadily transitioned to an advisory role last year. The forces will continue to support Iraq's fight against the Islamic State with air support and other military assistance.

The United States' presence in Iraq has long been a source of contention for Iran, but tensions reached new heights in January 2020 when a prominent Iranian commander was murdered in a drone strike near Baghdad's airport. Iran fired a volley of missiles against the al-Asad airbase, where US forces were stationed, in retaliation. The blasts resulted in more than 100 military men suffering traumatic brain injuries.

More recently, Iranian proxies are suspected of being behind an assassination attempt on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi late last year.

Officials have also stated that they suspect Iran was behind the October drone attack on an American military station in southern Syria. The incident did not result in any deaths or injuries among US forces.

"The aggression that targeted the dear city of Irbil and spread dread among its inhabitants is an attack on our people's security," Al-Kadhimi tweeted.

The incident was criticized by Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdish-controlled area. He claimed Irbil "would not bow to the cowards who carried out the terrorist act" in a Facebook post.

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