An Iranian missile strike on targets in northern Iraq set off an unusual dispute between the neighboring allies on Tuesday, with Baghdad recalling its ambassador in protest and Tehran insisting the attack was intended to deter threats from Israeli spies.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards hit what they called an Israeli espionage center in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Iranian media reported late on Monday, while the elite force said they also struck in Syria against the Islamic State.

The strike appeared likely to deepen worries about worsening instability across the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas started on Oct. 7, with Iran's allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.