A US citizen was among 14 people killed in an Iranian bombing campaign on Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the US said, as Tehran stepped up attacks on foreign dissidents it accuses of stoking protests .
The killing of a US citizen risks escalating tensions with Washington at a time when talks on reviving the nuclear deal with Iran have stalled.
The US State Department provided few other details. Iran on Wednesday launched a barrage of drone and missile strikes on Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in the town of Koya, near the regional capital of Erbil, and near the city of Sulaimaniya, officials said. Kurds.
The Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party, a banned left-wing armed opposition group in Iran known by the acronym PDK, and Komala, an Iranian Kurdish opposition party in exile, said several of their offices were targeted during Wednesday strikes.
The strikes came after authorities accused dissidents in neighboring Iraq of stoking protests rocking Iran, particularly in the northwest of the country where most of the country’s 10 million Kurds live and where Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody inspired the protests, is from.
Iran began bombing opposition groups in northern Iraq on Saturday, days after protests began.
Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard ground forces, said this week that Iran had “completely demolished” “terrorist” bases with 73 ballistic missiles and drones. According to the semi-official Fars news agency, he added that Iran’s operations would continue until there was “complete disarmament of separatist terrorist groups”.
The Iraqi government condemned the attack and summoned the Iranian ambassador. Civilians were among those killed in an attack “which represented the continued encroachment by Iranian forces on Iraq’s sovereignty”, a statement from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said. He also warned of the repercussions on regional stability and security.
Germany, the UK and the UN mission also condemned the attack. “Rocket diplomacy is a reckless act with devastating consequences,” the UN mission said.
The unrest comes at a time of heightened tension between the United States and Iran, with the United States growing frustrated with Iranian intransigence in stalled nuclear talks. The Biden administration issued a new round of sanctions against Iran on Thursday, targeting entities that the United States says are involved in the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.
“As long as Iran refuses a mutual return to the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the nuclear deal]the United States will continue to enforce its sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil and petrochemicals,” Brian E. Nelson, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a press release.
These economic sanctions “are reversible in the event of Iran’s return to compliance with the JCPOA,” the Treasury statement said. These are in addition to sanctions imposed last week against Iran’s vice police and other law enforcement organizations.