Iran tells UN it was not behind attacks on US interests in Iraq

Several rockets hit a military base in Erbil, northern Iraq last month, killing a foreign civilian contractor.

Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi speaks to the media outside Security Council chambers at the U.N. headquarters in New York
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Guterres, the country’s UN envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi 'decisively' rejects claims against Tehran [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran has told the United Nations that claims of its role in attacks on United States interests in Iraq are “completely baseless and lacking legal credibility”.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the country’s UN envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi “decisively” rejected claims that Iran-backed paramilitary forces were behind recent attacks against the US.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not had any involvement, directly or indirectly, in any armed attacks by any entities or individuals against the United States in Iraq,” he wrote, according to parts of the letter’s text published by state-run IRNA news on Monday.

Last month, several rockets hit a military base inside the airport in Erbil, northern Iraq, which killed one foreign civilian contractor and wounded at least nine others, including an American soldier.

Foreign troops deployed as part of the US-led coalition that helped Iraq fight the ISIL (ISIS) armed group since 2014 are stationed at the site.

A shadowy group calling itself Awliya al-Dam – or the Guardians of the Blood – claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would continue to target “occupation” American forces in Iraq.

Several other rocket attacks were launched against US interests in Iraq in the following weeks.

Most recently, several rockets landed in the Ain al-Asad base in early March.

In January 2020, shortly after the US assassinated Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired more than a dozen rockets at the base in an attack that bore no casualties.

Biden orders military operation

In response to the recent attacks, US President Joe Biden launched the first military operation of his administration, ordering an air attack on facilities in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq, which the US said are used by Iran-backed militias.

The air attack, which Biden said was “proportionate” and aimed at creating “deterrence”, killed 22 people, according to war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In his letter, Iran’s envoy to the UN condemned the air attack, calling it “illegal”.

The US attacks amount to a “violation of the sovereignty of the region’s countries and a clear symbol of the gross violation of international rights and the UN Charter”, Takht-Ravanchi said.

The representative also said the US moves only destabilise the region further and serve to advance the interests of “terrorist groups”.

He requested the letter be formally recognised as a UN Security Council document.

In late February, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, in Tehran that the recent rocket attacks against US positions in Iraq are “suspicious” and the perpetrators must be identified.

The regional conflicts have escalated as Iran and the US continue to be at a standstill over restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Source: Al Jazeera