US-Iran and Israel-Iran tensions December 2020 and after

Updated: 3 days ago

For the previous installment of our daily Iran-US tensions blog, click here.

December 1

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"

December 2

Iran seeks to expand support for Shi'ite shrines in Iraq

December 3

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

December 5

'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.

December 14

Iran says ballistic missiles non-negotiable.

December 15

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.

December 16

Khamenei vows revenge as Soleiamni death anniversary nears. Daughter Zeinab Soleimani says revenge is only just beginning in TV interview.

December 18

Iraqi PM meets Turkish officials as Ankara vowed new attacks on PKK. Houthi marine mine found, drones continue threats.

Images of Soleimani in Iraq parliament. Iran slammed for murdering journalist Zam who was kidnapped from Iraq.

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.

December 19

Memorial service in Iraq for Muhandis and Soleimani.

Iran offers Afghanistan Shi'ite militias as US leaves.

Fakhrizadeh gets new Iran stamp image.

December 20

Iranian hackers say they infiltrated Israel Aerospace Industries

Hezbollah fears Trump.

Several rockets hit US embassy area Baghdad, C-RAM used against them. Photos.

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.

December 21

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.

Suspected Iranian hack of IAI. US Navy says submarine passed through strait of hormuz.

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.

December 23

Trump warns Iran about 107mm rocket attacks on Embassy.

December 24

Airstrikes in Masyaf against Iranian targets.

December 25

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.

Images of the airstrikes on Masyaf in Syria, alleged to be by Israel. At least six killed.

December 26

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

December 27

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.

December 28

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.

December 29

Joint Palestinian drill in Gaza, rockets fired into sea, drones used. Analysis. Drones.

FDD: Will Iran continue to use Iraq against Israel

December 30

Alleged Israeli airstrikes in Zabadani, Syria. Photos.

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

December 31

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.

Soleimani posters torn down in Gaza, put up in West Bank, memorials in Lebanon.

Mike Pompeo designated Aryeh Lightstone as envoy on economic normalization and says US is safe.

January 4

Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean ship was detained by Iran. South Korea sends anti-piracy mission to Gulf.

January 5

Iran tests long range drones in drill.

January 6

Syria accuses Israel of airstrikes. See details.

January 7

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.

January 8

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.

January 9

US B-52s again fly to region.

January 11

US designates Houthis in Yemen as terrorists.

Iran reveals new underground missile base along Persian Gulf.

January 12

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.

January 13

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.

Many Fatemiyoun killed in airstrikes alleged by Israel in Syria between Albukamal and Deir Ezzor. These were fourth round of strikes in recent weeks. Report: US provided intel.

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.

January 14

Kamikaze drone base in Yemen? Newsweek says "Shahed 136" drones are there. Reports here and original here.

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.”

January 15

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.

January 16

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.

January 18

Iran militias may be abandoning Albukamal and Deir Ezzor for Iraq.

B-52s again make round trip, fourth time in two months. Logistics convoy attacked Iraq. Concerns over Turkey deporting Iranian.

Iran arrested US businessman.

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