Iraqis say Iran’s targeting of US bases on Iraqi soil is ‘assault’ and called on parties to move battlefield elsewhere.
Iran‘s missile attack on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops has raised questions over Iraq’s sovereignty and reflected Tehran’s deep-rooted influence over Baghdad.
Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases early on Wednesday morning. The Pentagon confirmed that the missiles hit the Ain al-Assad airbase in Anbar Province and a facility near Erbil’s airport in northern Iraq.
The missile attacks were in retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s (IRGC) Quds Force.
He was killed by a US air strike near Baghdad airport last week, alongside Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Iraqi President Barham Salih’s office issued a statement on Wednesday to condemn Iran’s missile attack for taking place “on Iraqi soil”. He also denounced Tehran’s “repeated violation of Iraqi sovereignty and its transformation of Iraq into a battlefield for confrontation between belligerent parties”.
Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament Mohamed al-Halbousi issued a statement to “condemn Iran’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty and express complete rejection of transforming Iraq into a spectre for settling scores”.
The statement also called on his government to take the necessary measures to end the “assault” on Iraq, adding that the country should be left out of confrontations between the Washington and Tehran.
Following Iran’s attack on the bases, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said he was alerted by Iran that its response to Soleimani’s assassination was either imminent or under way, according to his spokesman.
The statements by both officials reflected increasing anger across Iraq following the early morning attack.
Many Iraqis called it a “stark violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and compared it to the US strike that killed Soleimani.
“The strikes were definitely a violation of our sovereignty,” 24-year-old Rayyan al-Jaaf told Al Jazeera. “What Iran did was the same as the US when it launched a missile in Baghdad to kill Soleimani.
“Both were assaults on Iraq, yet the government has been mostly silent,” he added.