US-Iran and Israel-Iran tensions December 2020 to March 2021
Updated: Mar 9
For the previous installment of our daily Iran-US tensions blog, click here.
For the next installment click here.
Brodsky: Al Arabiya is reporting November 30 an Iran IRGC commander Muslim Shahdan (not familiar with this name) was killed overnight Sunday in a drone strike on the border between #Syria and #Iraq. Nothing confirmed to date, but Al Mayadeen is apparently denying report.
Badr Organization's (Iraq) al-Ghadeer TV page has been seized by the U.S. government.
Saudi foreign minister dismisses Iran's claim that Saudi Arabia was involved in the recent killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist.
Despite condemnation globally, including from Gulf, US officials and EU, UN does not pass resolution on Fakhrizadeh killing. "It became known that the killed Iranian scientist martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh also worked on laser weapons, oversaw the production of lasers in Iran and their use to combat UAVs"
Iran seeks to expand support for Shi'ite shrines in Iraq
Liz Sly: The US has drawn down diplomats in Baghdad. There was chatter about a total pullout a few weeks ago, but this seems tied to the Iran tensions. Thing is: each time they draw down for security reasons, they don’t go back & the footprint shrinks some more
'Israel has tape of slain Iran nuke chief talking about building five warheads'
Trump announces withdrawal from Somalia.
Witty: Iraqi PM orders investigation of PMF (Hashd) commander after he threatened Anbar Operations Commander, who allegedly ordered pictures of Abu Mahdi Muhandis be removed from the province.
Iran says ballistic missiles non-negotiable.
The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency Successfully Completed a Series of Intercept Tests of an Advanced Version of the David's Sling Weapon System.
Khamenei vows revenge as Soleiamni death anniversary nears. Daughter Zeinab Soleimani says revenge is only just beginning in TV interview.
Joe Truzmah: #Hezbollah announced Ali al-Hadi Yusuf Ballout was killed while performing the duty of jihad. Hezbollah did not say how and where he died but Lebanese reports claim he was killed in eastern #Syria.
Memorial service in Iraq for Muhandis and Soleimani.
Iran offers Afghanistan Shi'ite militias as US leaves.
Fakhrizadeh gets new Iran stamp image.
Iranian hackers say they infiltrated Israel Aerospace Industries
Hezbollah fears Trump.
In Iraq, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia: the Islamic Resistance Council is not responsible for today’s rocket attack on US Embassy. However, attacks on US military bases are permitted. We would never authorize an attack on the embassy.
The U.S. Embassy confirms rockets targeting the International Zone resulted in the engagement of Embassy defensive systems. There was some minor damage on the Embassy compound but no injuries or casualties.
Attack on a liquor store in Baghdad reported, one of many recent attacks, including on a "massage" center.
Israel's Chief of Staff Kochavi warns Iran. “We are hearing more and more threats against Israel coming from Iran,” he said at an awards ceremony. “If Iran and its partners... attack the State of Israel, they will [pay] a heavy price.”
Kan says Israel submarine on way toward Iran.
Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov will hold a meeting with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh on Sunday, the Russian Energy Ministry told TASS on Saturday.
Trump warns Iran about 107mm rocket attacks on Embassy.
Airstrikes in Masyaf against Iranian targets.
Asbah al-Kahf warns the gov "not to play with fire". They say they are awaiting orders from Qais al-Khazali to take the streets. "We are ready to use our rocket capabilities to defend Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq". Their use of language is very interesting, as if Khazali is their leader.
Malik: A high-ranking official in the Iraqi government just told me that the militias' mobilization tonight was to force PM Kadhimi to free an AAH member who was arrested Sunday night on suspicion on firing rockets at Us embassy.
Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba Shia militia in a new footage threatens to use drones against the US military and interests in #Iraq. The footage is produced by the militia’s Media Office in Iran Khazali gunmen pose with guns.
Bomb strikes convoy carrying US equipment.
Brodsky: After an IDF spokesman told a Saudi newspaper that Israeli submarines were quietly operating “everywhere,” an unnamed official in #Iran told Al Jazeera Saturday that “Tehran’s response to any attack on national security will be strong & wide.”
Khazali stokes tensions in Iraq.
"IDF Spokesman tells Saudi website Elaph that #Israel is monitoring #Iran's movement in the region, and expects that the threat will likely come from #Iraq and #Yemen. He also says Iran has deployed advanced drones and remote-guided missiles."
Kataib Hezbollah KH: "The region is boiling and the chance of a full-blown war is there. This requires self-discipline to deny the enemy the chance so that we would not be the ones starting it. The rockets fired lately do not benefit anyone but Trump and this should not be repeated
Tom Cat: Iran moving drones into Iraq sounds like pure fiction.
Witty: Iraqi sources: the commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force & key PMF (Hashd) leaders agreed to the arrest of an Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militia leader.
Russia reprimanded Jerusalem about instability in region.
Russia to hold strategic level discussions with Turkey.
Mansharof: Speaking with Al-Alaam TV, Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar honored Soleimani for his financial assistance to Hamas. Yesterday, Nasrallah also praised Soleimani for his military assistance to Hamas.
Iraqi PMF (Hashd) Council denies that orders have been issued to arrest Kata’ib Hezbollah militia security official.
Jpost: “Incidentally, the Post has learned before that MBS (Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman) has previously secretly visited Israel.”
Brodsky: A new Israeli hacker group, 972Ops, consisting of seven volunteers, all with professional experience in the world of cybersecurity, has been formed to respond to Iranian hackers. But two Iranians tried to join as double agents. #Israel #Iran
US has trained some 240,000 Iraqi forces and 60,000 Peshmerga.
Morocco flight arrives in Israel.
FDD: Will Iran continue to use Iraq against Israel
Explosion at Aden airport as unity government arrives.
Witty: In Iraq, Hadi al-Ameri, leader of Badr Organization: the price of the assassinations of Soleimani & Muhandis is the departure of US forces.
$290 million in PGMs for Saudi Arabia.
US may have used Ninja drone in Syria again
B-52s fly over Israel to Gulf
In an interview with Elaph, IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said that Israel is closely monitoring Iran's movements in the region, "an Iranian attack may come from Iraq or Yemen", stressing that Israeli submarines are sailing everywhere.
US brings masses of concrete blocks to harden defenses at Al-Asad base, Iraq.
Knights: Important to stress that “new militant groups” like Qassem al-Jabarin and Ashab al-Kahf have provable connections to Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Nujaba. It is a long laid effort by these groups to avoid negative domestic effects and US retaliation.
January 1, 2021
Israeli official predicts conflict with Hezbollah
Al-Ain: European pressure on Hezbollah in 2021 to increase
Houthis and Iran condemned by Saudi Arabia for Aden attack
IRGC Quds-Force head Esmail Qaani in ceremony marking assassination of Qassem Soleimani: “It is possible that some inside your home (inside the United States) will respond to the US assassination of Soleimani”
US official warns of conflict with Iran
Mine found on Iraqi tanker
US moves Nimitz out of Gulf.
Mike Pompeo designated Aryeh Lightstone as envoy on economic normalization and says US is safe.
Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean ship was detained by Iran. South Korea sends anti-piracy mission to Gulf.
Iran tests long range drones in drill.
Hezbollah shows off video of Israeli F-15 over Lebanon.
Peshmerga get US vehicles, Brett McGurk tapped by Biden. Iraq hints at US troop drawdown.
More Soleimani posters unveiled.
Twitter blocks on of Khamenei's tweets which cast doubt on Covid vaccine.
"Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Wednesday vowed his country will no longer serve as a playground for regional and global disputes, saying most US troops will leave within days."
Iran's national anthem played in Basra.
US designates PMU head Falih al-Fayyadh.
US B-52s again fly to region.
US designates Houthis in Yemen as terrorists.
Iran reveals new underground missile base along Persian Gulf.
At US Union III base in Baghdad photos of US designated pro-Iran terrorists such as Falih al-Fayyadh.
Pompeo: Since 2019, 13 countries in Europe & Latin America have joined us in banning/designating Iran-backed Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
Airstrikes near the Syria-Iraq border early Wednesday targeted sites used for Iran's nuclear program, a senior US intelligence official told AlJazeera Wednesday. According to the official, American intelligence was used to execute the strike, which was aimed at a warehouse used to transfer and store advanced nuclear weapons, as well as dispatch materials used in Iran's nuclear weapons development program.
IsraelHaYom: The strike on Iranian assets in Syria on Wednesday, widely attributed to Israel, had two targets: a kinetic one, namely the pro-Iranian militias based on in the Syria-Iraq border; and a diplomatic one – the incoming Biden administration in the US. IDF “has been tasked with forming 3 alternatives for Israel to undermine Iran's nuclear efforts...” Reuters reports this also.
Iran posters in Kirkuk.
Images of vehicle damaged in attack on logistics convoy in Iraq.
Iran does naval drill with new helicopter landing ship and missile boat.
Yadlin on the airstrikes in Syria's Albukamal.
Abu Fadak designated terrorist by US, he is deputy of PMU, head of Kataib Hezbollah.
Iran redeployment in Iraq was reason for the airstrike in Syria.
Iran trying to deepen roots in Syria despite Israel airstrikes, the strikes are designed to send a message to Iran prior to Biden taking office. Iran still trying to entrench near Golan. Iran is unlikely to retaliate in early days of Biden admin.
Trump pushes for Israel to be in CENTCOM
Warning that Israel could carry out airstrikes by Likud minister.
Haaretz: “Iran did a damage assessment after it understood that it will have a hard time operating close to the Israeli border, and reassessed western Iraq...It transferred there missiles that can hit anywhere in Israeli territory.”
Kan report on "Shahed-129" kamkizae drones in Yemen.
Palestinians consider reconciliation, elections.
New details about Iran's strike last year on Iraq Al-Asad base.
US supports intra-Kurdish talks in Syria.
Former US envoy James Jeffrey praises Trump's policy on Iran and Syria, says it is dealing with Russia and Iran like in Afghanistan.
Iran conducts missile drill with Emad, Sejjil and Ghadr missiles. Details, here and here and here. Video of missiles flying 1,800 km out to sea in 'Great Prophet' drill. Video. Landed within 100 miles of USS Nimitz. Iran had harassed US submarine Georgia days before. Geolocation of launch site here. More photos of the Iranian TEL.
Iran militias may be abandoning Albukamal and Deir Ezzor for Iraq.
Iran arrested US businessman.
UAE on President Donald Trump’s last full day in office to purchase up to 50 F35 jets, 18 armed drones & other defense equipment in a deal worth $23 billion.
Airstrike overnight near Hama alleged to be by Israel (was on January 22 in early morning).
Lebanon alleges airstrike was carried out from its airspace.
Terror attack in Baghdad allegedly by ISIS, Iran's FM Zarif "From terrorist bombings in Baghdad to Netanyahu's boot-licking—albeit a new boot—all have but one objective: trap another POTUS into spending US blood & treasure to “confront” Iran."
Iran's supreme leader tweets threat against Trump with drone golf photo
Pantsir-S1 missile booster in al-Zamaliyah, southeast of Masyaf was found after alleged Israel airstrike, missile allegedly fell in Jordan as well. Civilian home harmed. A US munition was allegedly used. SANA's report. "at approximately 4 am today, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression by firing volleys of rockets from over Tripoli, Lebanon, aiming at targets in area of Hama. Syrian air defenses intercepted, downed most of the missiles."
Khamenei fake account suspended over Trump threat, but real one continues.
Sirwan Kajjo on Syria airstrikes alleged to be by Israel.
Shepherds on Lebanon border spying on Israel.
New 'wolves network' linked to Fatemiyoun .
Twitter has suspended the account of Abu Ali al Askary from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq.
SANA alleged US sends convoy of 40 trucks to Syria.
On Israel moving to CENTCOM.
US new Defense Secretary speaks to NATO and Afghan counterparts.
Israel Chief of Staff Kochavi slams any return to Iran Deal.
Bomb near Israel embassy in India.
Drone intercepted over Saudi Arabia
Blinken says Iran could be weeks away from having enough material for bomb.
Hezbollah said it took down Israeli drone at border.
Investigations continue after blast near Israeli embassy in India.
Iran launches new rocket, capable of ballistic missile: "This was a very, very clear message by the Iranians that they are advancing and that they can build longer-range stuff if they want to...They want to show that, if you put pressure on our missiles, we can react.”
Israel Energy Minister: “In terms of enrichment, they (Iranians) are in a situation of breaking out in around half a year if they do everything required. As for nuclear weaponry, the range is around one or two years.”
US ends support for offensive operations in Yemen.
AI can help surveillance
US State Department to delist Houthis from foreign terrorist designation.
Thread on Lokman Slim, assassinated in Lebanon.
Some European lawmakers demand to expel Hezbollah.
Inside Iran's failure to become a gas hub.
Saudi Arabia intercepts four Houthi drones.
CENTCOM says US will continue to support Saudi protecting itself.
Houthi attacks impact civilians.
Libya weapons smuggling led Hamas to Turkey in 2013.
IRGC navy gets 340 new vessels, some with UAVs.
Hackers breached a water facility in Florida.
North Korea and Iran missile cooperation.
IDF Military Intel assessment says Iran could have bomb in up to two years if it sought to build device.
IDF Military assessment says Hezbollah not looking for major war, but several days of battle.
Houthi attack on Abha airport.
Jewish Chronicle on Fakhrizadeh killing.
Shelly Kittelson on Iraq border.
Memorials pour in for Lokman Slim, Hezbollah critic assassinated in Lebanon.
Iran has started producing small amounts of nuclear material and keeping it in Isfahan. - WSJ
Iran says that its supposed "fatwa" against nuclear weapons by Supreme Leader might be reversed if it is "cornered."
Arab coalition intercepts a ballistic Houthi missile fired toward #KhamisMushait
Raisi greeted with salutes in Iraq.
New Pentagon IG report says US force In Iraq is down to the Green Zone & airport in Baghdad, al-Asad in Anbar, & Irbil in the KRG, & do all their advising “remotely."
Meir Ben Shabbat speaks with Jake Sullivan.
Saudi CH-4 downed over Yemen, Houthis claim.
Hamas has acquired larger arsenal, including drones.
Yaakov Katz: Hamas used SAM to try to down Israeli drone earlier this week, Israel would have retaliated.
US revokes Houthi terror designation.
Philia Forum includes Egypt, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, UAE, Greece and other key countries.
Great Prophet 16 drill: IRGC uses drone quadcopters with rifles and munitions.
Houthis claim to have targeted Abha airport and King Khalid base. "The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen intercepted a drone launched by Houthis rebels towards Abha International Airport, state media reported on Saturday. The attack by an explosives-laden drone was the fourth such incident involving the Iran-backed Houthis in southern Saudi Arabia in as many days."
Israel wants more US aircraft.
Brodsky: Biden administration isn't looking at the #Iran file through the lens of the upcoming Iranian presidential election. It won't let the constellation of actors and developments elsewhere dictate Biden administration's approach.
Houthi drones against intercepted.
Syrian regime says it confronted Israeli airstrikes. "According to the international group Tasnim News Agency , a Syrian military source told Sanaa: At 1:18 am today (local time in Syria) the Zionist regime fired several missiles from the occupied Golan Heights and Galilee to target some targets around Damascus."
Iran rejects claims it targeted UAE embassy in Ethiopia.
Rockets target Erbil. US: "Initial reports that Indirect Fire landed on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was 1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured and 1 US service member injured. More information to follow."
Iran has informed the IAEA about its plan to limit inspections, its envoy to the IAEA wrote on Twitter on Monday. We may see more of these announcements this week as Tehran tries to generate a crisis to pressure Biden.
Iran may have moved 200 missiles to Iraq.
Israel and Russia negotiate after young woman held in Syria.
CRAM tested in Baghdad.
Nasrallah threatens Israel.
US provides tour of damaged facility.
Iran deadline looms as EU and US meet and calls made to Iran.
Israel simulates raid on 3,000 targets a day with surprise air force drill.
Israel announced work on Arrow-4 with the US.
NATO will increase troops in Iraq. After Erbil attack US says it will increase committment,
Ending Houthi FTO was to help US back toward Iran deal.
Rockets fired at Balad air base, Iraq.
Biden and Netanyahu speak.
Egypt Energy minister visits Israel.
Rockets fired at US embassy, Baghdad.
Israel approves the KC-46 deal and likely also F-35s and helicopters soon.
Biden deprioritizes Middle East.
US Pentagon: Iran is responsible for militia attacks on US interests in Iraq.
Iranian Kaman-22 UAV is most likely the first prototype still under flight tests. You can see the that from the prototype number (no registry number), no aerodynamic cover on control surface actuators, normal manufacturing flaws, etc (my red circles).
Iran's recent moves are a declaration that they are developing nuclear weapons in violation of the deal, Israel's Foreign Minister Asheknazi said.
Iran shoots fuel traders.
Gantz says IDF prepared to stop Iran
IR-6 at Fordow
Netanyahu: Israel will prevent a nuclear Iran whether or not a deal is in place.
Israel aims to resolve Iran disputes with Biden at adviser level
Israel to buy CH-53 helicopters.
IDF announcement and photos regarding the visit of the Commander of the US Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) to Israel.
Biden speaks to Saudi Arabia.
Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan in a secure video call two weeks ago that Israel thinks Iran's nuclear program should be dealt with separately from its regional activity in future negotiations, two sources briefed on the call tell me.
Missile strike near Marib by Houthis.
Purim in the Gulf
UAE ambassador to Israel Al-Khaja will take up post in coming days.
Israel's IDF has reorganized the way it responds to alerts and deploys troops along the border with #Lebanon amid growing concern of a possible confrontation with #Hezbollah, senior officers told The Jerusalem Post.
Crown Prince of Bahrain and Israel PM affirm the importance of the participation of countries in the region in any talks the Iran nuclear issue.
Last day of IDEX.
Photos from rocket attack and Feb. 20 of destruction by Erbil rocket attack and trip to Syria..
Israel work at Dimona revealed in satellite images.
Dual France citizen held by Iran, France rumored to be tough on Iran IAEA violations.
South Korea and Iran come to deal over frozen assets, tanker.
Ongoing Baluchistan unrest.
US and allies respond to Iran threats with "studied calm."
US and Israel will discuss Iran in coming days.
Israel and Saudi officials reportedly discussed US return to Iran deal. Israel seeks alliance with Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
US airstrikes on pro-Iran militias in Syria. Lebanese Hezbollah's official Al-Manar TV is citing Iraqi sources, claiming that U.S. military drone aircraft are conducting reconnaissance missions over areas controlled by Iraqi Shiite militiamen "for fear of a resistance response to the airstrike in Al-Qaim." The Pentagon says airstrikes in eastern Syria "destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point", used by a number of militant groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada. US Statement.
Marib hit with ballistic missile.
Israeli ship struck by missile in Gulf of Oman.
The Arab Coalition: Intercepted and destroyed a second explosive drone launched by the Houthis towards Khamis Mushait in Saudi Arabia.
Iran Press TV: Iraq 'resistance' groups urge probe into US strikes in Syria. Quotes US 60 Minutes "American troops who survived Iran's retaliatory missile attack on Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq last year say only "luck" helped them ride out the strike."
Iraq foreign minister in Iran for talks.
Qatar to fund $60 million pipeline
Israel TV says IDEX may have been affected by Iran threat to Israeli companies.
Iran ambassador in Iraq slams Turkey's threats as Sinjar tensions rise.
Iraqi MP demands government open investigation into statement by US Secretary of Defense that Iraq provided the US intelligence before US airstrike in Syria against Iraqi PMF (Hashd). US troops in Iraq on alert.
UAE and STC and others stand with Saudi after US releases Khashoggi report.
US Senators urge Houthis to stop offensive.
Israel may have avoided IDEX due to Iran threats.
Details on Israeli ship hit by blast now in UAE port. Mines attached to the Israeli-owned ship caused the blast in the Gulf of Oman. It remains unclear where the mines were attached. Israel believes the IRGC's Navy is behind the blast.
Israel airstrikes target Syria.
Part of a ballistic missile fired by Houthis at Saudi.
Read the next installment that begins here.
PMU says US targeted its forces in Iraq during Feb. 26 airstrike.
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.
An Israel-Russia-US-Iran deal in Syria?
US sanctions two Houthi military leaders.
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.
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.
"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.
Report that US met Houthis in Oman on February 26.