International community condemns rocket attack on Erbil

Broken glass is seen at the Bright Castle Motors building after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport, in Erbil, February 15, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The international community on Tuesday condemned a rocket attack on Erbil on Monday night, killing two people including a civil contractor of the U.S.-led Coalition forces.

Around 14 rockets were fired on a road between Gwer and Erbil toward the Kurdistan Region’s capital at 09:30 p.m. on Monday, according to the Coalition and the interior ministry.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S.-led Coalition Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said one civil contractor was killed and nine others including a U.S. service member were wounded in the attack.

The Region’s interior ministry said the rocket attack killed one person at the Erbil airport and wounded eight other people, including five at the airport.

German foreign ministry condemned the attack in a tweet, saying it “stands by Iraq & its people in the fight against terrorism and on its path to sustainable stability”.

Egypt and Jordan also denounced the attack in two separate statements.

“We deplore the deadly rocket attack on Erbil. Such heinous, reckless acts pose grave threats to stability,” Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a tweet.

“Iraq must be shielded from (external) rivalries. We call for restraint and for close Baghdad-Erbil collaboration to bring culprits to justice,” Hennis-Plasschaert tweeted.

In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry strongly denounced the attack, hoping Iraq will “quickly identify those behind the heinous attack and hold them accountable”.

Iranian foreign ministry denied in a statement rumors that Iran was behind the rocket attack, saying Iraq’s security and stability are “a key issue for the region and its neighbors”.

It called on the Iraqi government to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of the attack.

Saudi Arabia also expressed opposition to any move that puts Iraq’s security and stability at risk.

Spokesman of EU’s external affairs Peter Stano said the European Union condemned the rocket attack on Erbil city and Erbil air base where the U.S.-led Coalition troops are stationed.

“We encourage cooperation between Federal & Regional Authorities 2 investigate & hold the culprits accountable,” Stano said in a tweet.

UK Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey also condemned the attack on Erbil and the U.S.-led Coalition forces, saying the British government supports prime ministers Masrour Barzani and Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“Those responsible must be held to account,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the Dutch consulate-general denounced the rocket attacks, mourning the death of a civilian contractor and the injured contractors and U.S. service member.

General Commander of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi denounced the attack in a tweet.

“We strongly condemn such acts which aims at disrupting stability in the Kurdistan Region,” Abdi tweeted.

A group calling itself “Avengers of Blood”, or Saraya Awliya al-Dam, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Erbil in a statement on social media, saying it targeted “American occupation” and that it was “the beginning of the game”.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was “outraged” by the attack.

“I have reached out to Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss the incident and to pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible,” he added.

The KRG premier said in a tweet that they had agreed coordinate closely in the investigation to identify the outlaws behind the attack.

Separately, the ministry of Peshmerga said in a statement that any attack on the Coalition forces is an attack on the Peshmerga and people of the Kurdistan Region.

*This story was updated at 03:27 p.m. EBL time

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