Refinery complex hit in attack on Kurdish Iraq's Erbil

An oil refinery complex in the Iraqi Kurdish capital city of Erbil was targeted in a rocket attack on 1 May, according to Kurdish and Iraqi officials, resulting in damage to an oil storage tank.

"Six Katyusha rockets targeted an area in Khabat district in western Erbil province," the head of Kurdistan's foreign media office Lawk Ghafuri said immediately after the attack, adding that it had not resulted in any "casualties or material damage".

But the federal Iraqi government's security media cell said today that the rockets had targeted the refinery complex operated by Kurdish private-sector firm Kar group, which houses the 100,000 b/d Kalak and 60,000 b/d Nineveh refineries.

"The Kar company's refinery was targeted with missiles in the Kor Kosk area in the Khabat district of Erbil governorate, which resulted in damage to one of the main [storage] tanks, causing a fire," the security media cell said.

Ghafuri also confirmed today that an oil refinery had been targeted and one storage tank hit.

Iraq's prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi condemned the attack and gave assurances that the Iraqi armed forces would pursue those behind it.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. But Ghafuri said on 1 May that the rockets had "originated in the town of Bartella" in the east of Kurdistan's Nineveh province. Bartella is on the border of al-Hamdaniyah district, also in Nineveh, where the Iran-linked ‘Popular Mobilization Forces' militia brigade has a strong presence.

This attack on Erbil comes less than two months after Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out a missile strike on multiple locations in the capital city, including the private resident of Sheikh Baz Karim Barzinji, the chief executive of Kar group. The IRGC alleged at the time that the strike was part of an operation to hit Israeli targets in response to an airstrike by Israel in Syria that had killed several of its members.

But Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, has since dismissed that justification, saying that the attack was really carried out in an effort to maintain its influence in Baghdad as the country strives to form a new government.