Iran tensions in the Middle East March 2021

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

IranThe daily updates are compiled by Seth J. Frantzman, Executive Director of MECRA. For the previous installment which covers December 2020 to March 2021, click here.

March 1

PMU says US targeted its forces in Iraq during Feb. 26 airstrike.

Houthis say they've used 15 UAVs, 9 of which were Samad-3 and an [#Iran-ian] Zolfaghar ballistic missile.

Iraqi Fatah Coalition on US airstrike against PMF (Hashd) on Iraqi-Syrian: The mission of the International Coalition has changed from fighting ISIS to fighting the PMF. International Coalition must withdraw. Government must protect PMF.

US: "We believe right now there was likely one militia member killed and two militia members wounded" in last week's US airstrike against an Iran-linked militia facility in Syria.

Pentagon shows video of Ballistic missile strike last year on Al-Asad base.

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog #IAEA appeals for its inspection work in #Iran not to become a “bargaining chip” as world powers mull

March 2

An Israel-Russia-US-Iran deal in Syria?

US sanctions two Houthi military leaders.

Saudi video of shoot-down of Houthi drone. More Houthi attacks.

Israel Defense Minister Gantz expressed his willingness to promote a "special security arrangement" with Israel's Gulf allies against the growing threat of Iran.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Israeli authorities have warned scores of Hamas members in the West Bank against participating in the general elections.

Rabiee: Iran “does not allow Israeli invasions and monitors their behavior in the region," referring to Israeli ship that was hit.

March 3

Ten Rockets fired at Al-Asad base. US statement "We can confirm that early this morning the air base at Al Asad in Iraq came under rocket attack. Preliminary indications are that approximately ten rockets were fired from points of origin east of the base. There are no current reports of U.S. servicemember injuries and all are accounted for. A U.S. civilian contractor suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering and sadly passed away shortly after." Rockets fired from false bottom truck with video link. Photos of the vehicle used. Kataeb Hezbollah leader Abu Ali Askari posts on his telegram calling for Iraqis not overreact about the Pope's visit, and warning of a conspiracy in south Iraq under the pretext of dialogue between religions. He also congratulated the resistance for today's attack on Ain Al Asad. Pentagon "cannot attribute" yet which group carried out rocket attack in Iraq against al-Asad, press secretary says. US doesn't want to make a hasty decision. Three members of Kata'ib Hezbollah were reportedly killed near Jurf al-Naser in an IED explosion. Pentagon closely watches progress of Iraqi investigation. "Iran makes the rockets, gives them to Shia militia groups and tells them where & when to attack," says Marco Rubio. A mysterious Iraqi account seems to forewarn of the attack. 122mm Arash rockets were used.

Iran media says attack on Al-Asad had three messages, one was revenge and another to get the US out of Iraq.

Alex Almeida: This false bottom bongo dump truck setup is such a classic. KH was using these trucks to rocket US FOBs in Basra and Maysan way back in 2010-2011.

Iran critiques appointment of Richard Nephew to Malley Iran team.

Questions linger over oil spill that harmed Israel's coast, Israel's Gila Gamliel says it was "terrorism" and linked to Iran and "pirate" ship.

"I am in the midst of intense contacts for peace with other Arab leaders, with whom I have created a special relationship of trust and closeness over the years"

Haider Hamza Abbas al-Bayati one of the perpetrators of rocket attack on Erbil has been arrested by Kurdistan Region’s security forces.

Saudi Arabia hints it prefers Netanyahu to win elections.

UAE ambassador to Israel, Al-Khaja continues high level meetings with Israeli officials.

Report that US met Houthis in Oman on February 26.

March 4

The Arab Coalition confirms that it has intercepted and destroyed a #drone launched by the Iran-backed #Houthi militia targeting Khamis Mushait in southern #SaudiArabia.

Israel accuses Iran of oil spill that began in February off coast.

Sen. Warren: Think worth setting record straight on few things... Is Iran breakout shorter than when trump went against allies Kahl: per open sources, Iran breakout now down to 3-4 months; was up to a year at end of Obama admin.

Biden chose to skip one of the targets in his strikes on Syria ordered last week.

Abu Ali Al-Askari critiques Pope visit.

Ballistic missile launched at Jazan from Yemen.

Biden and Europe allies worry Israel is preparing a substantial attack on Iran.

New UAE ambassador thanks Tel Aviv for warm greeting.

Leader of Iraqi Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia: Turkey is planning to occupy Sinjar this summer.

Zaiynaboun militia in Deir Ezzor.

March 5

Pope in Iraq.

Lebanese media is reporting the IDF placed banners along the border near Meiss El Jabal reading "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones"

March 6

Houthis claim a successful attack on King Khalid Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

Syria regime or Russia fires tochkas at Syrian SNA areas near Al-Bab.

Pope meets Ayatollah Sistani. Photo.

SecDef Austin after Al-Asad attack "We want to make sure that...again, we understand who's responsible for this" and "We'll strike...if that's what we think we need to do at a time and place of our own choosing."

Saudis strike UAV launching team in Yemen.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq threatens to attack US forces.

Assassinations in Deir Ezzor.

Biden admin concerned about its allies in region going against its interests. Supports Saudi-Israel peace but requests Saudi adhere to US values.

March 7

Pope visits Mosul and Kurdistan's Erbil.

Hamas rocket kills fishermen off coast of Gaza.

Saudi Arabia says Khobar targeted from Yemen. Video.

In the evening Houthis target Ras Tanura. Questions over whether recent attacks on Saudi Arabia may have come from Iraq.

Saudi coalition intercepts two ballistic missiles launched towards Jizan by Iran-backed Houthis.

Palestinian official: The UAE and other outside parties are meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.

Israeli-owned Helios Ray, footage was taken after her repair in Dubai.

March 8

Ras Tanura oil facility attacked late on March 7 (Yemen's Houthis claim they launched 14 drones and 8 ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia targeting Aramco facilities ) in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh blames Iran. Houthis call it "deterrence operation 6."

Saudi Arabia: Iran is behind last night's drone and missiles attack on Saudi Arabia; "unclear whether the attack was carried out from Iraq or Iran but it did not come from Yemen"

Saudi FM in Qatar.

Wreckage of a Soviet SA-6 anti-aircraft missile ... The Houthis use an "upgrade" copy called Fater.

Arab Coalition said it has intercepted and destroyed yet another a ballistic missile fired by Houthis targeting Khamis Mushait.

Alex Almeida: "Interesting report from a couple days ago links the Saudi armed forces chief of staff’s visit to Baghdad with reports KH and friends were moving Iranian Shahab medium-range ballistic missiles to underground hides in the western Anbar desert."

Report: Iran has started enriching uranium with a third cascade of advanced IR-2M.

Bahrain, Jordan, Malaysia high level talks in Riyadh.

B-52s fly to CENTCOM again, message to Iran.

March 11

Netanyahu cancels trip to UAE.

WSJ: Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil out of concern that petroleum profits are funding extremism in the Middle East, U.S. and regional officials say, in a new front in the conflict between Israel and Iran.

Logistics convoy targeted in Iraq.

March 12

Press TV says Israel and UAE will develop drones.

Noble Dina took place with Israel, Greece, Cyprus and France from March 7-11.

Israel seeks US help on lasers. Report.

Iran's Press TV says Shahr e Kord ship damaged off coast of Israel, later accuses Israel of "terrorism" against Iran ships.

March 13

Logistics convoy targeted in Iraq.

March 14

Houthi attacks on Saudi again with drones.

Mystery surrounded by Netanyahu cancelled flight on March 11 for UAE, one report says he had to stop in Jordan, others say UAE downgraded it, others say it was to avoid Houthi threats.

March 15

Balad air base attacked with rockets in Iraq. Five rockets. Details.

Iran denies involvement in Iraq attacks.

Houthis say they used armed drones.

Israel met. with US Sixth fleet at sea.

Iran new anti-ship missiles. Video.

Gantz warns Hezbollah.

March 16

Airstrikes reported in Damascus, Syria. Last strikes were on February 28. Four Syrian Air Force IL-76 flights in a little more than 24 hours arrived in Syria.

Houthis target Saudi Arabia with ballistic missile.

Houthis blamed for murdering migrants.

Iran has begun using the highly advanced new IR-4 centrifuge to enrich uranium at its Natanz plant.

Iran, Russia and China accused of interference in US election.

US Deputy Special envoy David Brownstein visits Deir Ezzor.

March 19

Houthis launched 6x UAVs at the Riyadh refinery this morning. Strike was timed to coincide with a push on the Marib.

Ned Price: The U.S. joins the international community in calling for an end to the Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia and all parties to commit to a ceasefire. Today's attempts to disrupt global energy supplies by attacking Aramco show an utter lack of concern for the safety of civilians.

OIL MARKET: The Yemeni Houthis are intensifying their attacks against Saudi Arabian oil installations. Two weeks ago, the Ras Tanura terminal; earlier today, the refinery in the capital, Riyadh. There's a clear escalation pattern that is bad news for global energy security

March 20

Missiles made in Aramco attack, made in Iran. Important revelation from Adel Al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs for #SaudiArabia, on some of the missiles and drones that have been fired at the KSA “Several of them, as we’ve said, came from the north; several came from the sea.”

March 22

Iranian-backed militias kill officer in Iraq.

March 23

Rumors circulating on Telegram about Turkish intelligence warning of a Mossad plot to assassinate Rostam Ghasemi.

OIR denies report of attack on Conoco near Deir Ezzor.

March 26

French aircraft carrier in the Gulf.

March 27

Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Saudi - Iran 25 year deal: "Reportedly, Iran and China have done some $20 billion in trade annually in recent years. That’s down from nearly $52 billion in 2014..."

March 28

Hezbollah targeting of journalists.

Video of Saudis striking an explosive boat.

UK support Saudi self defense.

March 29

UN finds Houthis launched attack on Aden airport.

At 21:34 some Peshmarga units and bases of Kurdistan National Army,Zeravani Forces and Kirkuk Forces were attacked by 6 rockets of BM-21. These rockets were fired from the Iranian Hashds patrolled areas.

Bombing of Iraqi convoy.

April 2

On April 2, four IRGC ships, including three fast attack craft and a support vessel, came within 70 yards of two Coast Guard cutters.

April 3

Fars news says there was an attack on US supply convoy in Iraq.

April 6

Vienna talks set to begin.

Iranian Saviz ship sabotaged in Red Sea. US denies involvement. Ship has background as IRGC 'mothership'

April 7

Iran admits its ship attacked in Red Sea. Zarif on trip to Central Asia. Details of the ship.

Hezbollah seeks office in Moscow.

April 8

Airstrikes reported in Damascus

US says it could remove all combat troops from Iraq.

US says it may remove sanctions on Iran.

Iran media reports on new naval abilities.

Jordan crises days after coup rumors.

Levinson tied to Gaetz scandal. Details. More details.

Ten years of Israel's Iron Dome.

April 10

Iran boasts of 133 nuclear achievements and advanced centrifuges.

Questions over who leaked story of attack on Iran ship in Red Sea.

ImaeSat shows photo of Saviz, the Iranian ship. Images from ship from another outlet.

IDF Chief of Staff Kohavi: "The IDF's operations in the Middle East are not hidden from the eyes of the enemies - they are watching us, seeing the capabilities and carefully considering their next steps."

April 11

Incident or explosion heard in Natanz. Electrical grid damaged.

US supply convoy targeted in Salah-a-Din province in Iraq.

Iran FM Zarif says Israel is behind the incident in Natanz: "We will take revenge for these actions" Israel's security cabinet to convene next week on Iran issue, Iran program set back months by latest incident which Iran says is "terror" and "sabotage." Dan Williams: Israeli defence analyst: Without an enrichment capacity at Natanz for the coming months, Iran loses its negotiation leverage. Over national-security and intelligence channels, U.S. officials have voiced satisfaction with the damage inflicted on the plant. Israeli PM @netanyahu: The fight against Iran and its proxies is a huge task. The situation that exists today does not mean that it will be the situation that will exist tomorrow. We have become a world power, a regional power against them. "Intelligence sources told Kan 11 that the Mossad operation at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant was a cyber-attack, and that the damage is worse than what was reported." Western intelligence services tell Channel 13 News: Israel's Mossad agency was behind the "sabotage" at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant. NYT reports on Natanz "Two intelligence officials briefed on the damage said it had been caused by a large explosion that completely destroyed the independent...internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman in press conference: #Natanz attack will result in an achievement for Iran as it will lead to replacement of old (IR-1) centrifuges with new ones. "Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman in press conference: Inauspicious attack on Natanz facility was a crime against humanity as it could cause a disaster. If they wanted to undermine Iran's nuclear facilities, they should know they have just damaged IR-1 centrifuges". Khatibzadeh: Iran to replace damaged centrifuges in latest attack with advanced ones

Iran and Russia could sign agreement. Lavrov in Iran.

Houthis claim they fired ten drones at Aramco facility.

April 13

Hyperion Ray Israel ship allegedly attacked off UAE.

Iranian MP says that centrifuges badly damaged in attack at Natanz earlier in the week.

Iran says it will up enrichment to 60%, slams EU sanctions on Iranians involved in killing protesters.

Biden says will withdraw from Afghanistan by September

Sabereen news says Mossad agents killed in attack on safehouse in northern Iraq, KRG denies the report.

Matan Hirsch, an Israeli blogger who was contacted via Instagram by #Iran intelligence agents who tried to lure him to the United Arab Emirates, urged caution on Wednesday about speaking to strangers online.

Questions continued about timing of Natanz attack.

April 14

Saudi Arabia concerned about Iran enrichment.

Europe's E3 concerned about Iran 60% enrichment.

Drone attack on Erbil. Details here. Details and more details.

April 16

Iran obtains its first quantity of uranium enriched close to levels needed to make a weapon, adding to obstacles facing diplomats as they try to revive the 2015 nuclear pact.

April 17

US Coalition condemns "outlaw gangs" for attacking supply convoys in Iraq.

US condemns latest Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia.

Iran role in Afghanistan grows.

Yemen claims US and Saudi complicit in taking tankers. Southern Front claims Russia may guard Syrian tankers.

HRW slams US sales to UAE.

Demonstrators protest Iran in Lebanon. Hezbollah prepare parallel economy in Lebanon.

Iran names suspect in Natanz attack.

US concerned about Israeli "chatter" on Iran.

Israel meets Cyprus, Greece, UAE in Cyprus.

April 18

Israel report says weapons for Hamas smuggled via Yemen and Sudan.

Security Official for Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah militia: we hold Zionist-US-Saudi Coalition responsible for attacks on Iraqis & Iraqi forces. Our attacks on occupation forces will increase regardless of nationality & pretext they are NATO. Priority is US.

Attack on Balad air base. "The officials said the Katyusha rockets had fallen on the area of the base that houses U.S. contractors.", also "two katyusha rockets landed inside the town of Kifri in Kurdistan Region’s Slemani province." Three wounded.

Iran shows off missiles and drones in Army Day parade.

Greece and Israel in historic defense contract, $1.6 billion, 22 years.

April 19

Brodsky: Top brass from #Iran's armed forces in attendance for funeral of former deputy commander of the Quds Force Mohammad Hejazi today. Bagheri, Salami, Ghaani (think he's in this video, hard to tell with mask), Pakpour, and others.

April 20

Israel flies with Greece and UAE at Air Force drills.

IISS warns of Iran missile and drone threat.

Alma: New IRGC Deputy Commander: Muhammad Reza Falahzadeh is a very experienced veteran officer. His extensive experience in the Syrian arena is his advantage and, in our assessment, he will be able to step into Hejazi’s shoes relatively easily.

April 21

New footage of Iran kamikaze drone.

“For the first time since the Korean War, we are operating without complete air superiority. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of CENTCOM, whi