4 Killed in ISIS Suicide Attack Outside US Consulate in Iraq; State Dept. Vows to 'Degrade, Defeat' Terror Group

At least four non-U.S. civilians were killed and 18 others were injured in a suicide car bomb attack Friday at the entrance of the U.S. Consulate in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Erbil, for which the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility, according to reports.

While the attack was clearly targeted at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, none of its personnel was hurt, according to the U.S. State Department.

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"A car bomb exploded outside the entrance to the U.S. consulate," Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil's city center, told Reuters. "It seems the consulate was the target."

First, a small-improvised bomb exploded in the area, following which a car moved in the direction of the consulate, according to police, CNN reported. Security personnel fired at the car, which exploded before it could reach the consulate. Those in the car apparently detonated explosives after the vehicle was hit with bullets.

At least four civilians were killed and 18 wounded, according to CNN.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who were injured and killed," the State Department said in a statement.

"We appreciate the rapid response of the Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to this matter and we will work with them to investigate the incident to determine the facts behind the explosion," the statement added.

Washington will continue to "stand with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and all Iraqis as we work together in confronting these terrorist acts and towards our shared goal of degrading and defeating" Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL, the State Department said.

In what appeared to be a separate attack, a witness told the newswire that he heard gunfire and saw a column of black smoke high above the Ankawa district, which is a predominantly Christian neighborhood packed with cafes popular with foreigners.

"They (Islamic State) want to show they are present," Reuters quoted Sherzad Farmand, the head of security for Ankawa, as saying.

Also on Friday, ISIS claimed responsibility for two other car bombings in Baghdad that killed at least 27 people, according to Reuters.

"We additionally extend our condolences to those killed in terrorist attacks today in Baghdad, and wish a speedy recovery for those who were injured," the State Department said.

ISIS is an offshoot of al-Qaeda and wants to establish a caliphate in the Levant region and beyond. It has gained control over large swathes of territories in Syria and Iraq.

Since last June, when ISIS declared its "caliphate," the terror group has killed more than 2,000 people, about two-thirds of them civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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