Iran Project

Iran Update, February 8, 2024

Palestinian fighters are continuing to infiltrate previously cleared areas in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Unit 414 Intelligence Battalion (assigned to the 143rd Division) directed a drone strike on February 8 targeting a Palestinian militia squad that was attempting to “transfer technological systems” to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. Unit 414 previously encountered Palestinian fighters that were attempting to establish a Hamas reconnaissance position in Beit Hanoun on February 6. CTP-ISW assessed on January 22 that Hamas and other Palestinian militias are likely in the early stages of reconstituting their military capabilities in the northern Gaza Strip.

Iran Update, February 7, 2024

US Central Command (CENTCOM) killed a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander on February 7 who planned and participated in attacks targeting US forces in the region. CENTCOM said the strike was in response to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq’s drone attack on January 28 that killed three US servicemembers in Jordan. Local Iraqi media reported that the US airstrike hit a vehicle and killed three of its occupants in Mashtal, eastern Baghdad. Two Kataib Hezbollah commanders, Wissam Mohammed Saber al Saadi and Arkan Aleaoui, were in the vehicle. The Associated Press cited ”two officials with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq” who claimed that Saadi oversaw KH operations in Syria. An Iraqi journalist identified Aleaoui as a KH field commander. Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba said on February 7 that it will retaliate for the US strike in Baghdad if the Iraqi government does not immediately remove US forces from Iraq.

Iran Update, February 6, 2024

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on February 5 that Israeli operations have dismantled 18 of 24 Hamas battalions, rendering them “no longer [functional] as fighting military” organizations. Gallant and the IDF have not identified a precise definition for “dismantle." The IDF previously announced Israeli forces had “dismantled” all of Hamas’ battalions in the northern Gaza Strip on January 6. Hamas cells have continued attacks in the northern Gaza Strip after the IDF withdrew most of its forces on December 31.

Iran Update, February 5, 2024

Iranian-backed Iraqi officials are using recent US airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed Iraqi militias to retroactively justify their political pressure on the Iraqi federal government to expel US forces from Iraq. The United States has the right to respond and defend itself against these attacks from Iranian-backed groups in Iraq. Iranian-backed groups in Iraq are themselves violating Iraqi sovereignty by launching attacks from Iraqi territory targeting US forces, which are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and American assets elsewhere in the region.

Iran Update, February 4, 2024

Unspecified officials familiar with the hostage negotiations told the Wall Street Journal that divisions between Hamas’ leadership in the Gaza Strip and its exiled political leadership are impeding negotiations. The officials said that Hamas’ political leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, is prepared to accept a six-week pause in fighting and hostage exchange, but that Hamas’ exiled political leadership is calling for more concessions and a permanent ceasefire. Egyptian officials added that Hamas’ political leadership is also demanding the release of 3,000 Palestinian prisoners—including some who took part in the October 7, 2023 attacks—in return for 36 Israeli civilian hostages. Beirut-based senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on February 3 that Hamas and its allies rejected the six-week pause in fighting in a “united decision.” Hamdan added that Hamas and its allies are committed to a permanent ceasefire. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader demanded that any negotiations guarantee a “comprehensive ceasefire,” an Israeli withdrawal from and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and a “clear political solution.”

Iran Update, February 3, 2024

The February 2 US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeted Iranian-backed militia positions along the Euphrates River in Syria, the Iraq-Syria border, and south of Baghdad, Iraq. An anonymous US official told Politico that the United States struck all of its planned targets and several “dynamic targets that popped up as the mission unfolded,” including surface-to-air missile systems and drone launch sites. Two unspecified US officials also told the New York Times that the United States conducted unspecified cyber attacks targeting Iran on February 2.

Iran Update, February 2, 2024

The United States struck over 85 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria on February 2. The strike involved “numerous aircraft to include long-range bombers flown from [the] United States” using “more than 125 precision munitions.” The strikes targeted operations and intelligence centers, rockets, missiles, drone storage facilities, and “logistics and munition supply chain facilities” of the IRGC and Iranian-backed militia groups.

Iran Update, February 1, 2024

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued to operate in the northern Gaza Strip. The commander of the IDF Southern Command met with division commanders and IDF personnel in the northern Gaza Strip on February 1. He said that the IDF can operate and attack Palestinian fighters in "the heart of” Gaza City despite the IDF’s withdrawal. A spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office said that the IDF “shifted into a new phase of the fighting” and will “target pockets of resistance” in the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF 401st Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) raided unspecified Hamas-affiliated military buildings and killed fighters in the northern Gaza Strip on February 1.

Iran Update, January 31, 2024

An “informed source” told Iraqi media that IRGC Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani traveled to Baghdad on January 29 to “stop [the Iranian-backed Iraqi militias'] military escalation” against US forces. Ghaani’s visit to Baghdad followed the January 28 one-way drone attack that killed three US servicemembers in northeastern Jordan. Western media previously reported that Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah launched the drone from western Iraq. Ghaani met with militia leaders from the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias that includes Kataib Hezbollah. Ghaani asked the militia leaders to “calm the security situation.” Kataib Hezbollah’s announcement on January 30 that it suspended its “military and security operations” against US forces notably came after Ghaani’s reported visit.

Iran Update, January 30, 2024

Iran and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah are conducting an information operation to distance Iran from the January 28 one-way drone attack that killed three US service members in northeastern Jordan. Kataib Hezbollah announced the suspension of its “military and security operations” against US forces on January 30 and claimed that Iran objects to “pressure and escalation” against US forces in Iraq and Syria. Western media previously reported that Kataib Hezbollah conducted the January 28 drone attack into Jordan. Iranian officials previously denied Iranian involvement in the attack, claiming that the attack is part of a conflict only between “resistance groups and the US military,” adding that these “resistance not take orders” from Tehran.