US-Iran and Israel-Iran tensions timeline 2020 January to March
Updated: Mar 13
This timeline is the second part of a timeline that goes back to 2017, see the first part here. It seeks to include details about rising US-Iran tensions and also Israel-Iran tensions.
US deploys 100 Marines to Baghdad and sends 750 paratroopers to Middle East. Trump condemns attack on embassy and Pompeo says US will secure its personnel, "The attack today was orchestrated by terrorists – Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali – and abetted by Iranian proxies – Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad. All are pictured below outside our embassy."
Report: "These 650 paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment deployed from Pope Army Airfield, N.C. today. The rest of brigade—some 3,000+ soldiers—are 'ready to deploy,' in coming days if needed, 82nd Airborne Division statement says." 82nd Airborne personnel board C-17 Globemasters for the flight. US SecDef Mark Esper "The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world."
US Special operations of CJTF:OIR: "We are here to help Iraq in its fight against Daesh. Rocket bombardment of coalition and Iraqi forces, and mob violence at US Embassy, orchestrated by Kataib Hezbollah, prevent us from assisting."
Pompeo speaks with Deputy PM and Foreign Minister of #Qatar, Mohammed Al Thani, Netanyahu and Iraq's Prime Minister. Pompeo "The attack today was orchestrated by terrorists – Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali – and abetted by Iranian proxies – Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad. All are pictured below outside our embassy."
Khamenei says US taking revenge on PMU.
Interior Minister Yassin al-Yasiri “said that American attacks on an Iraqi militia had invited trouble. ‘These are the dangerous ramifications of this strike...What happened today is the danger that we were afraid of and that the Americans should have been afraid of’”.
Graffiti left behind on embassy reads "Soleimani is my leader": "سليماني قائدي"
ISOF members of security forces arrive to guard US embassy.
US helicopters fly over Baghdad.
Major airlift of C-17s arrive in Middle East.
Press TV quotes Bahraini cleric claiming US raids are attack on Islamic Ummah.
Drone attack at Baghdad International Airport killed Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Trump ordered strike and claims it was to prevent attacks and prevent a war. Iran vows harsh revenge. Pompeo says US committed to de-escalation as US citizens leave Iraq. Iraq's Parliament speaker condemns attack.
Esmail Qaani named Soleimani successor.
Israel on high alert after strike that killed Soleimani. "Israel's foreign ministry and defence officials announced a high-security alert at Israel's oversea delegations, fearing retaliation by Iran following the death of Soleimani." Netanyahu returns from Greece and officials meet at military HQ in Tel Aviv. Israel concerned over tensions in north and Gaza.
Press TV runs full page mourning Soleimani.
'For Trump, a risky decision' - NYT
Asaib Ahl al-Haq orders members to prepare for coming battle.
Hadi al-Amiri takes over Muhandis' post as Vice President of the PMU.
Israel releases 2018 data, says it struck 54 targets in Syria.
Pompeo speaks to Iraqi Kurdistan region PM Masrour Barzani.
US forces report two small attacks: "At 7:46 International Zone took indirect fire that landed outside of Coalition facilities and potentially harmed Iraqi civilians. At 7:50 p.m. rockets landed in the vicinity of Balad Air Base."
Pompeo speaks to Turkish FM, Iraqi President Salih, Bahraini Crown Prince, UAE Crown Prince and Netanyahu.
Thousands in Iraq mourn Soleimani and Muhandis.
Pompeo speaks to Qatar leader and India External Affairs Minister.
Massive crowds turn out in Iran for Soleimani funeral.
Only 130 Iraqi MPs arrive to vote for US leaving Iraq.
US military letter saying US repositioning force is leaked, US Chair of Joint Chiefs say it was a mistake. Defense Secretary Esper says US not leaving Iraq.
Iran FM Zarif says he met Soleimani weekly.
NATO suspends anti-ISIS operations in Iraq (first reported on January 4).
Pompeo speaks with Kuwait FM and Saudi Vice-Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman.
Inside the drones used to kill Soleimani - Task and Purpose
Dozens die in Soleimani funeral.
Masoud Barzani: "If the process of resolving the current issue in the Middle East region is in accordance to a path of reason and wisdom, we are certainly ready to cooperate. However, we can not be involved in any proxy wars."
At 5am in the morning Baghdad time more than a dozen Iranian ballistic missiles strike Ayn al-Assad base and near Erbil International Airport.
Iraq's Prime Minister Office says it was informed by Iran of the attack prior.
Did Iran avoid US casualties in rocket strike? US Chairman of Joint Chiefs says it "has more to do with the defensive techniques our forces used than it does with intent...Al-Asad is a big base. They put 11 large rockets with 1,000-pound, 2,000-pound warheads in it, but we took sufficient defensive measures." Damage was done to "tentage, taxiways, the parking lot, a damaged helicopter, things like that. Nothing that I would describe as major,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper added. “No friendly casualties whether they’re U.S., coalition, contractor, etc.” Further assessment: Iran fired 16 ballistic missiles from 3 sites "intended to destroy vehicles & equipment & kill personnel," US says. 11 targeted al Asad Air Base, 1 in Erbil, 4 failed.
Zarif: "Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
Trump speech indicates new sanctions, "Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred, and war. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.
Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process."
Two rockets land near Green Zone around midnight between January . US CJTFOIR: "The military Coalition confirms small rockets impacted near Baghdad’s International Zone, Jan. 8 at 11:45 p.m. (Baghdad Time). No Coalition casualties or damage to facilities."
US assess damage after rocket fire at midnight.
Ryan Browne of CNN: In the days before General Suleimani’s death, (CIA Director) Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran’s response if he was killed, according to current & former American officials”
Satellite images show aftermath of strikes on Asad base.
Sadr, who has called on US to leave Iraq, says PMU should stand down.
Soleimani may have plotted attack on Embassy.
Iran speech showcases links to IRGC affiliates and also Hamas Afghans, PMU
NYT: "In the days before #Suleimani’s death, Gina Haspel had advised Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of #Iran’s response if he was killed, according to...officials."
Iran's Chief of the Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force claimed in a televised press conference on Thursday that "Iran had carried out a cyberattack against U.S. monitoring systems minutes after launching its ballistic missiles on Tuesday and disabled U.S. drones."
Reuters: Informants helped in Soleimani hit
Airport informants and overhead drones: How the US got Soleimani - NBC
Iran takes responsibility for downing Ukrainian Airliner and apologizes, Rouhani says will investigate this "great tragedy."
Protests break out in Tehran, Rasht and Isfahan against government in wake of downing of plane, UK ambassador attends vigil and is briefly detained.
Trump tweets in Farsi saying human rights groups should be allowed to monitor events in Iran.
Report: Israeli intel helped US in Soleimani strike.
Balad air base hit with up to eight Katyusha rockets.
Explosions heard near Albukamal near IRGC base.
Trump authorized Soleimani strike seven months ago.
Sadr meets with Iraqi Shi'a militias in Qom. "On Monday, Sadr held a meeting with leaders of several armed groups within the PMF in the Iranian city of Qom. The meeting was also attended by Kataib Hezbollah, the Iraqi armed group whose 25 fighters were killed when the US launched air strikes against it on December 30, 2019, in response to the killing of a US civilian contractor two days earlier. It also included Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Shia armed group led by Qais al-Khazali, who was blacklisted by the US over his alleged role in killings of demonstrators in Iraq. Nasser al-Shammari, deputy secretary-general of the Hezbollah al-Naujaba Brigades, another group that attended the meeting in Qom."
Al-Hurra looks at Qom meeting and possible successor
Rocket falls near camp Taji, Iraq.
Effigy of UK ambassador burned in Iran.
Eli Lake: The memos the underpinned the Trump admin's Iran disruption campaign.
Uk, France and Germany warn Iran 15 days to trigger "snapback' sanctions.
Syrian media accuses Israel of airstrikes on T-4 base "A military source announced that our air defenses had responded to an air attack by Israeli aircraft on the T-4 airport in the eastern Homs countryside, from the direction of the Al-Tanf area on the Syrian-Iraqi border, and dropped a number of missiles." Initial Syrian report claimed aggression came from direction of al-Tanf.
AFP: US lost "eyes in the sky" during Iran attack on US bases in Iraq due to presence of drone operators at Ayn al-Assad.
11 US troops were injured in Iran's ballistic missile attack
Trump tweets in Farsi for the second time in a month slamming Iran's regime. "The noble people of Iran, who love America, deserve a government that will help them achieve their dreams, rather than focusing on killing them for revenge. Instead of dragging Iran to ruin, Iran's leaders must put aside the terrorists and magnify Iran again!"
Israel is only a decade from impenetrable air defense - Kochavi
Trump recounts killing of Soleimani, drones and military explaining the strike to him.
Mass protests in Baghdad and Iraq resume. Several killed, hundreds wounded.
Esmail Ghaani, new head of Quds Force, "They [US] hit him [#Soleimani] in a cowardly way, but with God's grace and through endeavours of freedom-seekers around the world who want vengeance over his blood, we will hit his enemy in a manly fashion.”
WSJ: "Some U.S. officials "who backed the decision to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem #Soleimani on Jan. 3 argue that continuing to squeeze #Iran could weaken the government or even bring about a collapse in the near to short term..."
Three rockets fall near Green Zone in late evening, sirens sound.
Militias continue to target demonstrators in Iraq.
Mohamad Hejazi appointed deputy Quds Force commander, he was formerly linked to Iran precision guided weapons sent to Hezbollah
Iran Basij commander killed in Khuzestan
Hoshyar Zebari "Last night firing of 3 rockets at #USEmbassy compound in #BaghdadIZ is yet another provocation by unruly militia. There is a new bull game in #Iraq after the #American drone strike on 3rd Jan near #BaghdadBIAP airport. De-escalation is key to stability."
Sunni politicians in Iraq grapple with reconstruction amid tensions
Rocket launchers found in Zafraniyeh, Baghdad, could have been used to target US
Kataib Hezbollah warn President Salih not to meet Trump in Davos
Iran reaches out to Gulf
Pro-Iran militias target media in Iraq
Israel FM tells Russia's TASS about necessity of confronting Iran
Abu Ali Al-Basri, Badr member, appointed to fill Muhandis position in PMU
Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba condemns Iraqi President Barham Salih as a "separatist"
Kataib Hezbollah threatens President Salih for meeting Trump
Protesters from Nineveh call for PMU to leave at UN compound in Erbil
Protests continue in Baghdad and Karbala
Iran's Hajizadeh admits that while he monitored US drones he was unable to track Soleimani because he didn't know his schedule on January 2.
PMU commander concerned after airstrikes.
Reports indicate the US might send Patriots to Iraq.
34 US service members have been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) resulting from Iranian missile attack.
Masive protest in Baghdad by Sadr and Badr against US presence.
Three French aid workers kidnapped in Iraq.
Department of Defense press briefing discusses 34 Americans hospitalized due to the Iranian missile attack earlier in the month. Also responds to questions about air defense.
Aircraft targeted Iranian militias near the Syrian-Iraqi border in the Deir Ezzor area of eastern Syria on Saturday, according to Deir Ezzor 24
Pompeo NPR interview slams Iran for supporting militias.
US Department of Defense still tight-lipped on whether air defense might be deployed to Iraq.
Sadr withdraws support from anti-government protests
Iraqi militias and security forces use live fire against them in Baghdad. But protests continue in Nasiriyah and Basra. Sadr threatens protesters
Islamic Jihad oppose Trump "deal of century"
Live fire used against protesters in Baghdad and Nasiriya Habub Square. Up to 12 killed in several days.
Larijani says that ballistic missile attack will deter US for ten years.
Amiri and PMU deny they fired rockets. Abdul Mahdi condemns rocket fire on embassies.
Sadr continues to critique protesters.
Protesters return to Nasiriyah.
IRGC chief threatens US and Israel against harming Quds Force head, calls for Basij mobilization.
Kataib Hezbollah denies involvement in rocket attack at embassy.
Harakat Hezbollah could be making a play for leadership in PMU
Qaim residents concerned about US-Iran tensions
"The pro-Iran Badr organization, headed by Hadi al-Ameri, said Sunday’s rocket attack aims to spark strife and impede efforts to restore Iraq’s sovereignty. He urged the government to exert serious efforts to protect diplomatic missions and uncover the perpetrators." - Al Sharq al-Awsat.
US announces "Deal of the Century." Deal is widely condemned by Iran officials .
What is the role of Harakat Hezbollah in uniting the PMU (Al-Monitor)
Zarif condemns US deal of century.
US had planned for Iranian drone strikes after Soleimani stirke
CNN : "The United States said Thursday that it is seeking to place Patriot missiles in Iraq to counter Tehran and will levy new sanctions against the regime on the same day that it announced the opening of a channel to deliver humanitarian aid to ordinary Iranians." Milley: "The mechanics of it all need to be worked out, and that is ongoing."
The Drive: "At least 64 individuals have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries as a direct result of Iran's strikes on Al Asad. More than 200 people were within the blast zones of the impacting missiles." [The article goes on to note:] "This leaves just 11, around 60 percent of the Army's total Patriot force, available to respond to contingencies around the world."
Hamas meets Erdogan to oppose US deal.
New Iraqi PM selected, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, after deal between Badr's Amiri and Sadr.
A decision by the United States to lift sanctions on one of two units of the Chinese tanker company COSCO was not a sign that the Trump administration was letting up on its “maximum pressure” against Iran, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday.
Ayatollah Nouri Hamdani condemns US, argues US deal of century is threat to Islamic community.
Sadr's blue hats take over Turkish restaurant in Iraq, Sadr tells protesters to stop blocking roads.
Tasnim roundtable discusses why US killed Soleimani "The assassination pursued a strategic goal, and was a purely warlike one, triggered by reactions from within....In my opinion, the story is not over and they still want to bring this deterrence to a point where it can either go back to power or completely defeat it. Americans at first level did not think about physical removal. Given the conditions of the November protests, they felt that internal pressure had increased and that the country was unable to run...under such circumstances, they resorted to terrorist action to add a limited military option in addition to domestic pressure, because the sanctions alone would not suffice."
IRGC Quds Force commander in touch with Palestinian factions.
Japanese destroyer on way to Gulf amid tensions to join maritime patrols.
Iran has 32,000 agents in Iraq - Al-Hurra
Trump's deal will die, says Khamenei.
SANA media reports Israel airstrikes around Damascus at Kiswa, Izra, Marj al-Sultan and Baghdad Bridge interchange (الكسوة ومرج السلطان وجسر بغداد وجنوب إزرع ).
Hamas - Israel tensions rise in Gaza. Rocket and mortar and balloons, Israel reduces fishing limit and carries out airstrikes.
Iran showcases Global Hawk it shot down in June 2019
Russia Ministry of Defense says Israeli strikes near Damascus almost hit Cham Wings plane
Speaking during a joint armed forces ceremony at an Iranian airbase in the southwestern Bushehr province on Friday, Ebrahim Raeisi said the Persian Gulf has to remain secure for Iran "at all times". Iran would respond to provocations.
Iran media targets Steven Nabil.
Russia, Iraq and Iran may strengthen ties amid tensions
Ayatollah Khamenei says Iran must be strong to avoid war
Iran unveils new Thunder 500 rocket(موشک رعد ۵۰۰).
Russia warns Israel about airstrikes, after alleging civilian airliner was threatened during February 6 airstrikes. Cham Wings Airbus A320 had to divert.
Turkey and Syrian regime clash, five Turkish soldiers killed, Turkey hits 115 targets. Pompeo supports Turkey and sends Jeffrey to Ankara.
Israel and US discuss region: "Jerusalem and Washington have divided up the fight against Iran, with Israel taking responsibility for countering the Islamic Republic in Syria and the United States in Iraq, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Saturday." Esper and Bennett met on February 4.
Reuters: Sheikh Mohammad al-Kawtharani of Hezbollah tasked with uniting PMU in Iraq and working with Hashd.
“We are constantly working to raise the stakes for Iran until we reach our ultimate goal: removing them from Syria. We will continue to prevent an Iranian presence on our northern border,” Bennett said at Kibbutz Dafna in the Galilee during a ceremony marking the Disaster of the Helicopters that occurred on February 4, 1997.
Clash at Khribet Amo in Syria between US patrol and local regime supporters leaves one Syrian dead.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he did not know anything about the alleged Israeli attack that target the Damascus area on Thursday, adding that maybe it was "the Belgian air force." Baxtiyar Goran reports airstrike by Israel in Syria. Syria says it intercepted hostile targets over Damascus. Four Iranians, three Syrians killed.
The military Coalition confirms 1 small rocket impacted the Iraqi base hosting Coalition troops in Kirkuk (K1), Feb. 13 at 8:14 p.m. (Iraq Time). No casualties or damage to facilities.[Appears to be 107mm].
Hashd al-Shaabi photos on 41st anniversary of Revolution and 40th day of mourning of Soleimani.
As part of new Momentum plan, Israel appoints general to focus on Iran.
Airstrikes on Damascus airport "Israeli strikes on Damascus airport killed seven fighters, a war monitor said Friday, the latest in a string of attacks targeting Iran's military presence in Syria. Syrian state media said only that its air defenses intercepted missiles over the capital overnight while Israel did not immediately comment on the strike...According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes launched late Thursday hit military targets in the area of the international airport."
Press TV: Soleimani was a peace champion.
Iran claims Israeli delegation visits Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo at Munich Security Conference "to be in #Germany for the Munich Security Conference will provide a productive forum to discuss shared security, confronting #Iran, and strengthening the Transatlantic relationship." Pompeo is going to Senegal, Angola, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Hajizadeh threatens to remove US from region
Saudis say no plansfor Israel meetng
Al-Nujaba shows video targeting Americans. Spokesperson of Iran-backed Nujaba militia posts photo of a US military vehicle “near Ain Assad base,” stressing on the militia leader’s speech in #Iran “we are closer to you [US] than you think.” Says "countdown" has begun.
Hezbollah unveils statue of Soleimani
Rouhani says Trump won't start was in election year.
Rocket hits Union III near embassy in Baghdad.
US Senators held meeting with Zarif.
Conflict Armament Research reveals Houthi drone ops
Iran responds to report of US Senators meeting Zarif.
CENTCOM reveals SAM missiles and drone components it found during November naval raid. Including the 358 missile.
Pompeo in Saudi Arabia and Oman discusses Iran's destabilizing activities in region.
Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has appointed Abu Fadak al-Mohammedawi as the new deputy commander of Hashd al-Shaabi following the martyrdom of his predecessor Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed in a US drone attack last month.
Coronavirus spreads in Iran.
Sadr returns from Qom, threatens mass protest if Allawi doesn't choose cabinet soon.
Houthis fire missiles, drones at Saudi, claim to have downed jet.
Israel reveals secret Mossad and IDF Southern command trip to Qatar
Pompeo phones Iraqi PM Mohammad Tawfiq Allawi to reaffirm US support for a "strong, sovereign, prosperous Iraq."
Israel carries out airstrikes in Syria after rocket fire. "In response, a short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck Islamic Jihad terror targets south of Damascus, as well as dozens of Islamic Jihad terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip. In the Adeliyah region, outside of Damascus, an Islamic Jihad compound was struck, used as a hub of Islamic Jihad's activity in Syria. In the compound, the Islamic Jihad conducts research and development of weapons, both by adapting them to manufacturing in the Gaza Strip as well as for local manufacturing in Syria. In addition, dozens of kilograms of AP, used as rocket fuel, are manufactured on site. Another activity that takes place in the compound is the technical training of terror operatives, both from the Gaza Strip and the north."
Houthis unveil new missiles.
As coronavirus spreads in Iran, US offers to help.
Report of rocket attack near Saddiq (قاعدة الصديق) base in Salah a-Din province is said to not be accurate.
Saudi drone downed in Yemen.
Turkish airstrikes increase against Syrian regime, Hezbollah suffers casualties, Iran warns Turkey. US backs Turkey's response.
Iran says Israel trying to harm its relations with IAEA details on uranium enrichment.
Iran triples its uranium stockpile.
Abu Ali al-Askari, head of Kata’ib Hezbollah’s intelligence, accused Mustafa al-Kadhimi, head of #Iraq’s intelligence service, of coordinating with US. in assassination of Qassem #Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-#Muhandis. Accusations may lead to arrests of Kh members.
Press TV publishes article asserting "Zionist elements developed deadlier strain of coronavirus against Iran: Academic."
Israel's new "Iran command" that is being set up as part of its Momentum (תנופה) five-year plan is (פיקוד איראן) like the other commands: Southern, Northern, Center, Home. In contrast to Depth Corps set up in 2011 (מפקדת העומק).
Ali Shamkhani travels from Iran and in Iraq slams "Zionists" for being against regional stability.
Pompeo "Iran must immediately release on humanitarian grounds all wrongfully detained Americans being held in Iran. The United States will hold the Iranian regime directly responsible for any American deaths. Our response will be decisive."
Sadr in Iraq condemns Trump, says will not accept any coronavirus treatments.
Iran condemns the US for "shamelessly" preventing aid during coronavirus pandemic.
Brett McGurk: "Troubling reports of American and British casualties after a rocket attack in north-central Iraq. Before last fall there had been no such rocket attacks in nearly eight years. Now they are happening nearly every week. My thoughts are with our people and partners under fire." Jennifer Griffin: "2 Americans and 1 Brit were killed when 15 Katyusha rockets landed at Taji Base in Iraq at about 7:52 pm local time today. "ISIS doesn't have this capability," I am told by a US military source. The US military is still treating the wounded right now, which number more than 11."