Iran-Backed Iraqi Militants Claim Unconfirmed Attacks Against Israel

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militants Claim Unconfirmed Attacks Against Israel


Iran-Backed Iraqi Militants Claim Unconfirmed Attacks Against Israel 

Between October 17 and February 11, Iran-backed Iraqi militants conducted over 165 attacks against U.S.-operated military installations in Iraq and Syria, which provoked a handful of U.S. retaliatory strikes against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated militias aimed at degrading their capabilities in those countries, which isn’t necessarily deterring the Islamic Republic in the long-run. Since February 11, the militias have not attacked the U.S. However, the ‘Islamic Resistance in Iraq’ claimed several attacks targeting Israel over the past week, saying that it had begun its “second phase of operations in support of the oppressed people of Gaza.” These claimed attacks, while not confirmed, could portend future strikes emanating from Iraq, particularly if and when Israel assaults Hamas in Rafah, one of the last remaining Hamas bastions.  

U.S. Commander Testifies Before Congress On Iran’s Ongoing Support To Terrorist Groups 

General Michael Kurilla, the commander of CENTCOM, testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, describing Iran’s ongoing support for Hamas and Hezbollah as the source of the deteriorating regional security. Kurilla stated Iran is “deterred right now in Iraq and Syria and their support to the Iranian-aligned militia groups in terms of attacks, but not necessarily in terms of their funding and equipping.” Anticipating future escalation, he advocated for cost-effective means like lasers for intercepting rockets and drones.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

U.N. Report Confirms Hamas Committed Grave Sexual Atrocities On October 7 

The U.N. released a report which confirmed Hamas employed sexual violence during its terrorist attack against Israel on October 7 in multiple locations in Israel. The report identified particular locations where Hamas raped and gang raped victims before murdering them. The U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict said that her office held “clear and convincing information” that sexualized torture and rape was currently being inflicted against hostages in Hamas’ captivity.  

Iran And Its Proxies And Partners Plot Against Israel Ahead Of Upcoming Muslim Holiday 

Iran and Hamas are plotting to use Ramadan as an opportunity to stir up unrest and violence against Israel. According to an Israeli security official speaking anonymously, “Iran and Hamas [desire] to set the Middle East alight via the Temple Mount.” The potential for unrest has led some senior Israeli security and military officials to push for Muslim worshippers’ access to the Al-Aqsa compound at Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the upcoming Muslim holiday, while other officials insist that they should be banned. Last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Muslims to “fortify the Al-Aqsa on the first day of Ramadan,” a blatant effort to exploit the Islamic faith in order to incite violence and destabilize Israel.  

Prospects For A Hostage Deal Seem To Fade, As Hamas Hardens Its Position In Talks 

Last weekend, Hamas refused to provide Israel a list of the living hostages, diminishing the prospects of a temporary ceasefire between the two warring parties. Israel did not send a delegation to engage in the negotiations when they resumed on March 3 in Cairo due to Hamas’ intransigence. Hamas also had not determined the ratio of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for the hostages, likely trying to buy time for pressure to grow against Israel and lead it to make concessions. Israel’s political leadership has calculated that a ground offensive into Rafah is necessary and unavoidable, given that Hamas retains command-and-control over large units present in that area.  

Talks between Israel and Hamas for a temporary ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages appeared, again, in a terminal state on March 7, with reports indicating that Sinwar put forward a maximalist position that Israel has already publicly rejected, namely a permanent ceasefire. Egyptian officials said that Sinwar believes the combination of U.S. pressure and apparent political divisions in Israel puts Hamas in an advantageous position. Sinwar’s demands were reportedly at odds with those of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Qatar-based political chief who has been leading the hostage negotiations and reportedly seeking a six-week pause in fighting rather than a permanent ceasefire. The Biden administration—now heavily invested in the diplomatic process to reach a deal before Ramadan—says it will build a port in Gaza for aid delivery but has not enumerated the risks or provided detailed plans of this operation.  

Elite IDF Commando Unit Raids A Compound Formerly Used By Sinwar 

In western Khan Younis, an elite Israeli commando unit raided a compound formerly used by Hamas’ Gaza-based leader Yahya Sinwar on March 2. During the operation, the IDF exchanged gunfire with Hamas militants and discovered weaponry, ammunition, and military equipment. Israel has vowed to dismantle Hamas’ capabilities, which means killing all of its fighters and destroying its arsenal of weaponry, including its small arms, rockets, explosives, and other weapons that pose an imminent danger to Israel and the IDF units in Gaza.  

A Senior Hamas Security Official Discloses Valuable Intelligence To Israel 

A senior Hamas official in charge of security for members of Hamas’ political bureau was apprehended months ago. His interrogations have yielded valuable intelligence on Gaza-based Hamas leaders, their possible locations, and the October 7 terrorist attack. Contrary to reports that Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, commander of Hamas’ Al-Qassem Brigades, left Gaza, Israeli intelligence officials believe the terrorist leaders remain in tunnels below Khan Younis, possibly in ‘Room 6,’ which according to IDF intelligence is equipped with communications lines and the necessities for an extended stay. There may be hostages as well to increase the chance that an Israeli raid would cause friendly fire.  

Lebanon and Hezbollah 

Hezbollah Launches Its Largest Rocket Barrage Towards Israel To Date 

Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets towards Kiryat Shmona, most of which Iron Dome batteries intercepted. The attack occurred soon after U.S. Envoy Amos Hochstein visited Beirut in an effort to negotiate a deal that would purportedly lower tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. While in Beirut, he met leaders of anti-Hezbollah parties, one of whom claimed Hochstein had “consulted only the viewpoint in Lebanon aligned with Hezbollah” prior to that day’s meeting. Israel retaliated against Hezbollah by striking targets in Taybeh, a town in southern Lebanon used as the launching pad for the rocket attack.  

Hochstein has been shuttling between Washington and Beirut since Hezbollah began firing rockets, missiles, and drones towards Israel, ostensibly in solidarity with its ‘Axis of Resistance’ partner in Gaza. In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, Hezbollah is required to withdraw its forces behind the Litani River, a proposition the group has thus far rejected, heightening the likelihood of Israeli military action to force Hezbollah away from the border. Israel has vowed to restore security on its northern frontier, where Hezbollah’s forces are currently massed, including those from the Radwan Unit responsible for most of the daily aerial attacks against Israel.  

Israel Conducts Targeted Drone Strike Against Imam Hossein Division In Lebanon 

On March 2, three militants from the Imam Hossein Division were killed in southern Lebanon in an apparent Israeli strike. The Imam Hossein Division, a specialized militia trained by the IRGC and Hezbollah based in Syria, was relocated to southern Lebanon to take part in fighting against Israel in November. Since then, it has worked with Hezbollah to coordinate attacks against Israel. This militia also conducted the large rocket and drone attack on Al-Tanf Garrison in October 2021, underscoring its lethal capabilities.  


Syrian Dictator Praises Putin And Hamas For Acting In Self-Defense 

Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad likened Russia’s war in Ukraine to Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack against Israel, framing them as self-defense measures in an interview with a pro-Kremlin journalist. Following Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war in 2015 at the request of then IRGC-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, Syria and Russia’s relations grew. In return for its air campaign that killed thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, Syria has given Russia a toehold in the country. More recently, competition between Russia and Iran for political, economic, and cultural influence in Syria has emerged, with reports indicating Russia has landed more contracts in critical Syrian industries. Nevertheless, Iran has continued an effective recruitment and rearming campaign in Syria, reportedly outpacing Syria’s government in signing up fighters, partly due to its relatively large stipend and for ideological reasons.