1226 GMT February 17, 2019
Iraqi ambassador summoned
Iran’s Foreign Ministry in a statement strongly condemned a “brutal” attack on its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, and reminded the country’s government of its responsibility to protect diplomatic sites.
In the Friday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi regretfully confirmed an attack reported earlier on the consulate, saying the attackers had set the building ablaze in their brutal raid, causing serious financial damage.
However, he added, none of the staff members of the Iranian diplomatic mission had been harmed thanks to pre-emptive measures taken by the consulate after it received threats a day earlier.
He described the attack as a violation of protocols and said the Iraqi government has a crucial responsibility to protect diplomatic sites.
Undermining Tehran-Baghdad ties
Qassemi at the same time warned about overt and covert efforts to undermine the friendly relations between the Iraqi and Iranian nations and governments, urging Baghdad to identify, arrest, and punish the culprits behind the serious crime as soon as possible.
Iran had earlier informed and warned the Iraqi officials about the possibility of such an attack, and thus the Arab government is held responsible for any negligence in ensuring the consulate’s security, Qassemi noted.
The Iranian official further said the Iraqi ambassador in Tehran was summoned over the attack on the Islamic Republic’s consulate in Basra.
Qassemi added that the envoy was notified of Iran's strong protest over the negligence of the Iraqi forces to protect the consulate.
Iraqi officials’ reaction
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, saying that it harms the Arab country's interests.
Some of the Iraqi officials condemned the attack on Iran’s consulate in Basra.
The country’s First Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday blamed the Iraqi security forces’ failure for the incident.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari voiced regret over the attack on Iranian consulate, saying that these hostile actions create opportunities for the enemies of Iraq.
Leader of the Iraqi National Wisdom Movement Ammar Hakim also denounced the Friday attack on Iranian consulate and other government buildings in Basra.
Hakim expressed concerns over Basra accident, saying the country is in a dangerous situation.
Iraqi lawmakers met in emergency session on Saturday to discuss the crisis in public services in Basra.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the unrest as "political sabotage" as he joined the session along with several ministers, charging that "the question of public services" was being exploited for political ends.
Eleven people have been killed so far in the violent protests against corruption and lack of basic services over the past five days.
The Iranian consulate’s building was not the first to be set on fire. The angry demonstrators had earlier set government buildings ablaze as well.
Airport targeted by rocket
Basra airport was also targeted by rocket fire on Saturday.
Iraqi security sources said three Katyusha rockets fired by unknown assailants had hit the perimeter of the airport, although no damage or casualties had been reported. The US consulate is adjacent to Basra’s airport.
An official at the Iraqi airport said there was no disruption to operations, and flights were taking off and landing as normal.
The attack came shortly after a citywide curfew was lifted and hours after the reopening of Iraq’s main seaport of Umm Qasr where protesters had blocked the port’s entrance, forcing a halt to all operations.
IRNA, Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.