Iran has strongly condemned a “brutal” attack on its consulate in the port city of Basra in southern Iraq, and reminded the Iraqi government of its responsibility to protect diplomatic sites.
In a 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.
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 Islamic Republic expects the Iraqi government to speed up its efforts to catch and severely punish the perpetrators, he added.
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.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi foreign ministry condemned the attack, saying that it harms the Arab country's interests.
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. The buildings included the headquarters of the local government, the ruling Dawa Party, the Supreme Islamic Council and the Badr Organization.
Some of the protesters also set on fire the offices of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and the offices of the Hikma Movement about 100 km (60 miles) north of Basra, while storming the house of the acting head of the provincial council.
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