New Delhi, Jan 16: In a recent escalation of hostilities, Iran's Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for a targeted strike on what they alleged to be Israeli "spy headquarters" in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. The attack, which occurred on Monday, resulted in four deaths and six injuries, as reported by the Kurdistan Region Security Council.
Iraq strongly denounced the assault, condemning it as a violation of its sovereignty, while Israel's government remained silent on the Iranian claims. Concurrently, Kurdistan authorities revealed that three armed drones flying over Irbil airport, a site housing US, and international forces, were shot down on Tuesday morning.
The repercussions of the Israel-Hamas conflict have started extending beyond the immediate theatre of conflict, involving militants aligned with Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
A spokesperson for the United States emphasized their support for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq, asserting that no US personnel or facilities were targeted in the Iranian strikes.
This latest exchange comes after “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for two explosions in Iran earlier this month, resulting in nearly 100 deaths and numerous injuries during a memorial event for Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander.
The Revolutionary Guards, in a statement, vowed to continue offensive operations until avenging the recent deaths of three Guards members in Syria, including a senior commander who served as a military advisor.
In response to the attacks, Iraq summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Baghdad, recalling its envoy from Tehran and protesting against what it deemed a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.
Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani condemned the assault on Erbil as a "crime against the Kurdish people." Among the casualties, prominent Kurdish businessman Peshraw Dizayee and members of his family were killed when a rocket struck their home. Dizayee, close to the ruling Barzani clan, was involved in real estate projects in Kurdistan.
The situation remains fluid, with the international community closely monitoring the evolving dynamics and potential implications for the broader Middle East.
Houthi rebels Strike US-Owned Cargo Ship in the red Sea
Houthi rebels targeted a US-owned cargo ship, the Gibraltar Eagle, with a ballistic missile off the coast of Yemen, according to the United States military command for the Middle East (Centcom). The vessel, flagged under the Marshall Islands, reported no injuries or significant damage, allowing it to continue its journey in the Gulf of Aden.
The attack follows a series of actions by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who have been targeting ships since November, in response to Israel's conflict with Hamas. The Gibraltar Eagle, carrying steel products, was approximately 160 km offshore in the Gulf of Aden when it was hit. Despite limited damage to a cargo hold, the vessel remains stable and is moving out of the affected area.
Hours before this incident, Centcom reported the interception and destruction of another missile aimed at a US destroyer in the Red Sea by a US fighter jet.
The Houthi rebels have consistently attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea, claiming connections to Israel or Israeli-bound ports. They assert that these actions demonstrate support for Palestinians and Hamas in Gaza, aligning with Israel's ongoing military campaign in the region.
The frequent attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea have prompted major shipping companies worldwide to alter their routes, causing significant disruptions to global commerce. QatarEnergy, the world's second-largest oil company, also announced a temporary suspension of shipping via the route to seek security advice.
Last week, in response to attacks on shipping, US and UK forces carried out joint air and sea strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen. These strikes targeted Houthi missile launch sites and air defence systems, aiming to deter further aggression.
Terror Attack Killed 70-Year-Old Woman in Israel
What Israel called a “terrorist attack” a 70-year-old woman lost her life, and 17 others sustained injuries in Raanana, situated approximately 20 km north of Tel Aviv, Israel. The authorities have arrested two Palestinians from the West Bank in connection with the attack.
According to police reports, the suspects engaged in a series of vehicle thefts and carried out the attack, deliberately running over pedestrians at various locations. The incident unfolded against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza, which recently surpassed the 100-day mark.
Israeli media accounts indicate that the deceased woman was initially stabbed by one of the suspects. Subsequently, the attackers commandeered her car, using it to ram into pedestrians. After losing control of the first car, they stole a second vehicle and continued their assault on people.
Both suspects, identified as originating from the West Bank city of Hebron, were apprehended, with authorities revealing that they had entered Israel illegally.
Tensions in the West Bank have surged since the commencement of the Gaza conflict. Local health officials report over 350 Palestinian casualties at the hands of Israeli forces in operations targeting militants, settler-related violence, and other incidents in the West Bank.
The Palestinian news agency, Wafa, in a separate incident, disclosed the deaths of two Palestinians in what it termed "confrontations" in the town of Dura, south of Hebron, during clashes with Israeli forces.