On September 28th, 2022, at around 10:30 am, dozens of Iranian missiles and drone strikes reportedly killed between 13 to 14 people, according to official fatality estimates, though some local media estimated that it could be up to 18. Between 58 to 62 others were injured. The strikes were conducted in a number of areas including Koysanjaq/Koya/Koy Sanjaq district, Bardi area and Prde area (Erbil governorate), Zargwez area/ Zarkwezela/ Zargwezalla residential complex (Sulaymaniyah governorate), Sherawa area, and Altun Kupri/Altun Kubri district in Kirkuk governorate.
While the exact number of civilians harmed remains unclear, local sources indicated that at least 13 across all locations were killed, including a pregnant woman, her one-day old infant, alonside at least one child, while at least another 58 were injured – including three journalists and likely a number of children.
Airwars decided not to split out these incidents into several assessments as it was not possible to clearly distinguish the casualties between the areas targeted. It remains unclear whether some locations hit by Iranian strikes were military training camps or if only civilian buildings were struck. Moreover, at the time of the strikes, sources were conflicted as to whether or not members of the parties were actively engaging in military activities.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the strikes. The Washington Post said “the headquarters of three Iranian Kurdish opposition parties who support the ongoing demonstrations inside Iran” were targeted by Iranian strikes: the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) “in the Koya district, the Kurdish Komala Party in the village of Zarkwezela, in Sulaymaniyah province, and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) in Kirkuk province.” KDPI, PAK, and Komala were described by local sources as Iranian left-wing opposition parties with armed wings banned in Iran, and exiled in Northern Iraq. The New York Times, quoting the UN, added that the attacks hit “Iranian refugee settlements” and sources observed that a primary school inside a camp was also targeted. The Kurdish Ministry of Health recorded difficulties for the ambulances to reach remote mountainous areas hit.
A number of Komala militants were reportedly “lightly injured”. According to Human Rights Watch, IRGC said it targeted “the offices of Iranian opposition parties, referring to the targets as “terrorist bases.” However, “residents and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that some of the attacks struck towns and villages where the opposition parties were not conducting any military activity.” The NGO added that they “could not verify whether sites hit in mountainous regions that host military training activities by the opposition parties targeted, as Iranian authorities claimed.” Rudaw claimed that the sites targeted were “not military, but completely civilian”. The Washington Post reported that KDPI confirmed the deaths of two of its members”, while PAK also counted 2 of its members killed and a number of others injured. The UNHCR noted a “number of civilian casualties and injuries, including Iranian refugees – including women and children”, while ANF News stated that those injured were mostly civilians. “According to the South Kurdistan anti-terrorist services, 13 people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in the attacks, and 58 people, mostly civilians, were injured.” Local sources also recorded a number of militants killed or injured as well as soldiers injured.
At least 70 ballistic missiles and dozens of drones, launched from Iranian territory were reportedly used by IRGC according to Iraqi and Kurdish official sources. France 24, quoting Iraqi officials, said that Iran “carried out “twenty drones carrying explosive materials”. Rudaw added that “Iranian state media reported the use of Fath 360 missiles in the attack” as well as “Shahed-136 suicide drones”
KOYA – (ERBIL)
In Koya, KPDI headquarters were reportedly targeted. Tariq Haidari, mayor of the Iraqi Kurdish city of Koya, told Reuters that “two people including a pregnant woman were killed and 12 wounded. Some of the wounded were rushed in critical condition to hospital in Erbil” . He added that Iranian drones targeted “a military camp, homes, offices and other areas around Koya”. UNHCR Iraq noted that strikes also hit an Iranian Kurdish refugee camp located in Koya district. According to a UNHCR official, “The attack caused damage to an elementary school where refugee students were present”.According to HRW quoting UNICEF, “the attacks in Koya struck a school in a refugee settlement, injuring two children and killing a pregnant woman.
-The pregnant woman was either identified as “Reyhane (Shima) Kanaani” “Rehana Kanaani”, “Shema”, “Jenin Rehan Kanaani “, “Reyhaneh Kanaani” or “Rihana Kan’ani”. She was said to be from Mariwan city. Sources reported that she was severely injured in front of a house by a rocket in Koya district and later died in a local hospital. @ShukriyaBradost Twitter account identified her as “Iranian Kurd”. Rudaw said she was 31 years old and engaged when she was killed. She was a KDPI member, as well as her husband, identified as Zanyar Rahmani, who was working as a peshmerga / KDPI militant. He told Rudaw :”the Revolutionary Guards sent me a message two minutes before the bombing, they said if you do not leave these parties, we will not leave your family”, and that following the bombing, he could not hear well. Rudaw reported that “after Rehana was transferred to the hospital in Koysanjak, the doctors were forced, as a result of her unstable health, to subject her to an early delivery operation to save her fetus. Rihana’s son was born and was named, at her request, as (Wanyar/Waniar ). Rihana died as a result of her severe injury, while Wanyar remained under intensive care, fighting a life-and-death struggle for a day and a half.” Rudaw reported that the infant died at 7 pm the next day. Rehana Kanaani’s death was acknowledged by the Mayor of Koya. A local source reported that the doctor supervising Wanyar’s health explained that the child suffers from lung problems that prevent the oxygen from reaching his brain sufficiently. Similar details were recorded by HRW, who explained that the victim “suffered injuries to the back of her hand and internal bleeding”, and also interviewed the victim’s husband : “Our home is one and half kilometers away from the party headquarters,” said Zanyar Rahmani, Kanaani’s husband, who works at the KDPI offices that were attacked. “[We live] in a camp for refugees, mostly women and children live there. The area where my wife and I live is not a military place, it is residential for civilians. Waniar suffered brain damage and also died. “My son was healthy [before the attack], until that moment all the sonograms showed he was healthy,” Rahmani said.” An alleged picture of Wanyar’s body carried by his father was published on social media, with the comment “The hardest moment in life is to carry your son’s body without a soul 😔- Wanyar Rahini, who was martyred in an Iranian raid on his father’s arms”.
HRW also interviewed a police officer without political affiliation, who stated that he saw children and security guards injured by the attacks. According to HRW, “the police officer said that the party offices are in a residential area where many Iranian refugees live. “We have never seen them doing any military activities in the headquarters because it’s located in a residential area,” the police officer said. “I am aware they have some military activities, but in the mountains, not in the cities.” Another resident of Koya who has no affiliation with the political parties targeted told Human Rights Watch the offices targeted are political offices only and do not host military activities.””
-@KhaderTai claimed that an American civilian was also killed during Iranian strikes on Koya, and shared an alleged screenshot of his American passport, describing him as Omer Mahmoudzadeh (Omar Mahmoudzadeh), 59 years old. @ElizHagedorn claimed that Omar Mahmoudzadeh, was “Iran-born” and “left the United States for Iraq in 2019 to join KDPI. Mahmoudzadeh’s wife and daughter in Virginia learned about his death via social media, and received a call from the State Department confirming early this morning. Khalid Azizi, a spokesman for the KDPI, described Mahmoudzadeh as a well-known party member and retired peshmerga fighter.” CNN said an American was killed by an Iranian rocket attack – the death was acknowledged by Washington.
-A woman, identified by sources as Hajar Karimi or as Hajer Zarka or Hajer Zrkar, in Al-Zanani, was reportedly killed during the Iranian shellings of the KDPI headquarters in Koya.
-A young girl was allegedly killed in Koya area after being wounded during the attacks. @layan_h8 twitted that she was in first grade of primary school. Other sources said that Iranian shellings on a primary school led to several kids injured.
-near Koya, PDKI officials recorded a number of journalists wounded.
According to Rudaw and the New York Times, around 700 families were displaced by these attacks, many of them Iranian refugees living in a camp in the city of Koya. Another source said that “footage circulating on social media showed children screaming and running for shelter behind rocky outcroppings.“It was a quiet morning until the sound of bombing shook our house,” said Salar Ali, a 47-year-old farmer from Koysanjak. He immediately rushed to the school, where he was reunited with his 10-year-old son.” A UNHCR official added “We are extremely shocked and concerned that the attack has impacted refugee families. It also impacted a school where refugee students were present.”
A number of people suffered from “minor injuries” in Zargwez area according to France 24. They were identified as Komala party members by Rudaw. A Komala member interviewed by HRW said that “Our office is in a residential area (…) We don’t have any military activities. The residents of the complex are all refugees from Iran who escaped.” He said that the party does not conduct military activities out of the office that was hit.“I was in the Komala office in Zargwezalla when a drone hit just behind us,” said Anwar Qobadi, another Komala member. Qobadi is also a refugee who told Human Rights Watch he left Iran in 2010 after suffering human rights abuses by Iranian authorities. He said that everyone in the Zargwezalla resident complex is a refugee.After the first drone hit behind their office, Qobadi and two colleagues fled the building. “One minute later a missile and another drone hit the office, and shrapnel hit my back,” he said. “My colleagues were injured too and the building was destroyed. Nobody was killed.”
Reuters, quoting local sources, added that “drone strikes targeted at least 10 bases of Iranian Kurds near Sulaymaniyah”, without further precisions regarding potential civilian casualties. Komala oppositon Party militant said that 10 drones landed in Zargwez area. an Agence France-Presse reporter in Zargwez, quoted by France 24, observed “white smoke rising from the bombed site and ambulances heading to the place, while residents were leaving their homes. He added that a female doctor from the party was treating the wounded with minor injuries at the site.” Sources reported damaged and destroyed buildings.
In Altun Kupri district of Kirkuk governorate, headquarters of the Kurdistan Freedom Party were similarly bombed.
-Iraqi-Kurdish channel “K24” reported that 3 of its journalists were “seriously injured.” Another source said that a correspondent and a cameraman for the channel Kurdistan 24 were reportedly injured. The reporter was identified as “Soran Kamran”, and one source added that he was seriously injured while he was covering “the Iranian bombing of Kurdish party headquarters in Altun Kupri district”.
-Rudaw on Twitter counted 7 people killed by Iranian strikes, and posted pictures of them including their names, without specifying where the incidents occurred. One of the alleged victims, pictured not wearing a military uniform, was identified as Zakrous Mouhsen.
The incident occured at approximately 10:30 am local time.