Kurdish TV channel continues broadcasting after missile attack

Kurdish TV channel continues broadcasting from badly damaged studio after ‘Iranian produced ballistic missiles’ smashed into their offices during attack on US Army base in Iraq

  • Watch the moment a Kurdistan news outlet continues to broadcast even after missiles struck their studio last night, destroying much of their offices
  • Iranian-produced ballistic missiles hit Erbil in Northern Iraq in the early hours
  • Kurdish and US officials confirmed that there were no casualties
  • Experts said the attack was likely an attempt from Iran to intimidate the US, striking at Erbil which it sees as a base of operation for its enemies

Watch as Kurdistan 24 TV, a local news outlet in Northern Iraq, continued to broadcast even after rockets smashed into their studio on Saturday night. 

Multiple rockets hit a US Army base and the Kurdish news channel office in Erbil, Northern Iraq, destroying equipment and sending residents running for their lives.

But when the shelling stopped, Kurdistan 24 kept on rolling – deciding to broadcast the news even with the studio half-collapsed behind them.

‘We will continue broadcasting and spreading despite substantial damage to our equipment,’ said the news broadcaster shortly after the missiles hit.

View of the damaged studio at the Kurdistan 24 TV building after a ballistic missiles attack nearby in Erbil, Iraq March 13. The news outlet decided to broadcast after the strikes

A picture taken on March 13 shows the damaged studio at the Kurdistan 24 TV building

The attack happened in Erbil in the dead of night, part of the autonomous Kurdistan region 

A picture taken on March 13, 2022, shows a view of a damaged conference room at the Kurdistan 24 TV building

Video footage shows a Kurdistan 24 presenter announcing the attack on the US embassy, with wreckage around him.

At least a dozen ‘Iranian-produced ballistic missiles’ hit the city in the early hours of Sunday, Erbil governor Omed Khoshnaw confirmed. 

He said it was not clear whether the missiles were targeting the American consulate at the site, or the airport in the city.

Kurdish and US officials confirmed there were no casualties in what they’re calling an ‘outrageous attack,’ adding that no group has immediately claimed responsibility for the strike. 

‘There are a multitude of potential reasons (for the Erbil attack), but the most likely is that the Iranians see Erbil as a hub for its opponents in the region to plan and conduct attacks against Iran and its interests,’ Nicholas Heras, deputy director of the Human Security Unit at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, told Kurdistan 24.  

‘Erbil is a useful target because there are important US-and other regional partner-assets located in the city, it is easily and quickly struck from Iran or from Iraq and Syria, and attacking it sends a message to the Americans and their partners to back off from activities that the Iranian leadership views as a threat,’ he added.

US Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie had warned about attacks in the area back in December, when he told The Associated Press that while American forces in Iraq switched to a non-combat role last year, Iran and its proxies ‘still want American troops to leave the country.’ 

Kurdistan24 TV station is damaged by rockets shot by Iran into the city of Erbil on Sunday

A dozen ballistic missiles targeted Iraq’s northern city of Erbil, including US facilities, causing damage but no major casualties

As a result, McKenzie said, ‘that may trigger more attacks’ on American bases.  

Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Twitter: ‘Erbil is under fire… as if Kurds were not Iraqis.’

The attack came during a pause in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Kurdistan Region Health Minister Saman Barzinji visited the Kurdistan 24 channel in a solidarity visit after the attack, along with adviser to the president of Kurdistan Region Nawzad Hadi.

‘From here, we thank all the parties and parties that have asked for the safety of the Kurdistan Staff 24, whether by sending the message or visiting us,’ said the news outlet.

A man inspects the damage at a shop following the overnight attack in Kurdistan

A man cleans debris in the damaged studios of the Kurdistan 24 TV building

The US base at Erbil International Airport was previously hit by a rocket attack in September, on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States. 

It is the second drone attack on the airport in as many months. The internal security service for the autonomous region, of which Erbil is the capital, initially said at the time that three rockets had hit near the airport.

A second statement by the Kurdish counter-terrorism force said the attack had been carried out by explosive-laden drones. 

The airport in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region, has come under attack several times in the past year, including by drones carrying explosives.

The last time ballistic missiles were directed at US forces was in January 2020 – an Iranian retaliation for the US killing earlier that month of its military commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport.

No US personnel were killed in the 2020 attack but many suffered head injuries.

A picture taken on March 13 shows a view of a damaged building after an overnight attack in Erbil

A woman inspects the damage in the children’s room at home following the missile strikes

US officials blame previous attacks on Iran-aligned Shi’ite Muslim militias which have vowed to fight until the remaining 2,500 U.S. military personnel leave the country.

The US forces are leading an international military coalition whose mandate is to help Iraqi forces fight remnants of the Sunni extremist Islamic State group.   

This is the second attack in two months, with one drone striking the airport in July. There were no injuries or any structural damage.

That attack came a day after rockets and a drone targeted Ain al-Asad air base, which houses US troops, and the US Embassy in Baghdad.

In April, a drone dropped explosives near the US forces stationed at Erbil airport.

Iraq and neighboring Syria are regularly the scene of violence between the United States and Iran.

Iran-backed Shi’ite Islamist militias have attacked US forces in both countries and Washington has on occasion retaliated with air strikes.

An Israeli air strike in Syria on Monday killed two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iranian state media said this week. The IRGC vowed to retaliate, it said. 

A spokesperson for the regional authorities said there were no flight interruptions at Erbil airport.

Residents of Erbil posted videos online showing several large explosions, and some said the blasts shook their homes.

The first missile strike is recorded in the early hours of the morning

Residents peered over their compounds to see the US consulate engulfed in fire on Sunday

Videos show missile explosions shot by Iran into Erbil, Iraq 

Iraq has been rocked by chronic instability since the defeat of the Sunni Islamist group Islamic State in 2017 by a loose coalition of Iraqi, US-led and Iran-backed forces.

Since then, Iran-aligned militias have regularly attacked US military and diplomatic sites in Iraq, US and many Iraqi officials say. Iran denies involvement in those attacks.

Domestic politics has also fueled violence. Iraqi political parties, most of which have armed wings, are currently in tense talks over forming a government after an election in October. 

Shi’ite militia groups close to Iran warn in private that they will resort to violence if they are left out of any ruling coalition.

The chief political foes of those groups include their powerful Shi’ite rival, the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has vowed to form a government that leaves out Iran’s allies and includes Kurds and Sunnis.

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