​​​​​​​U.S. Assessment of Attacks on American Forces by Iran’s Proxies and Partners

​​​​​​​U.S. Assessment of Attacks on American Forces by Iran’s Proxies and Partners

U.S. Assessment of Attacks on American Forces by Iran’s Proxies and Partners

Iran-backed Militias’ Attacks Increase on U.S. Forces

NBC News reported Friday, citing U.S. officials, that attacks by Iranian proxies against bases housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Syria are increasing, and that Washington has not responded with force since 2021. There were seven attacks in May, as many attacks that month as in February, March, and April combined, and there has been a total of 20 attacks since October without a kinetic U.S. response, according to the NBC News report. After a drone attack on al-Tanf in October, the U.S. relayed a message to Iran through diplomatic channels with a warning about not striking again. But then at least 29 attacks followed, according to a list provided by a senior defense official.  


On Wednesday, a drone exploded in Erbil, which Reuters reported, citing security sources, was targeting the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. It injured three people and damaged several cars on Pirmam Road on the outskirts of Erbil. The attack came as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors voted to censure Iran. The Kurdistan Region Security Council said that the drone was launched by a Hezbollah militia—a likely reference to Kata’ib Hezbollah, although Abu Ali Al-Askari, the head of its security office, denied it was behind the attack telling Al-Mayadeen TV that “the accusation that we bombed the Mossad headquarters in Erbil—although it is an honorable accusation—we are not aware of it.” Iranian media this week kept amplifying a report that the strike killed a Mossad commander in Erbil named “Asa Flots”—which translates into “made a fart” in Hebrew—casting further doubt on the claim. Even the Kurdistan Region Security Council called such claims “lies” and “rumors.”  


IDF Says Hezbollah Gathering Intelligence Under Guise of Environmental Group 

On Wednesday, the Israeli military accused the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group of conducting clandestine activities along the border with Israel under the guise of an environmental group known as “Green Without Borders.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has made similar claims in recent years, identifying several observation posts owned by the non-governmental organization, which the army said were actually being used to carry out intelligence and reconnaissance work for the Iran-backed terror group. In a series of tweets, IDF Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee attached photos of alleged Hezbollah members taking pictures and observing Israel from a small structure on the border. Adraee also noted that the head of the IDF’s Northern Command said Tuesday that Hezbollah recently stepped-up construction on military infrastructure near the border.  

Hezbollah Officials Threatens “Force” Against Israel Over Gas Deposits  

Hezbollah is ready to take action “including force” against Israeli gas operations in disputed waters once the Lebanese government adopts a clearer policy, the group’s Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem said on Monday. Qassem’s comments came a day after a vessel operated by London-based Energean (ENOG.L) arrived off the coast to develop a gas field known as Karish. Israel says the field is part of its exclusive economic zone while Lebanon has begun to claim it lies within its territory. “When the Lebanese state says that the Israelis are assaulting our waters and our oil, then we are ready to do our part in terms of pressure, deterrence, and use of appropriate means—including force,” Qassem said. “The issue requires a decisive decision from the Lebanese state,” he added, saying that Hezbollah “urged the government to hurry up, to set a deadline for itself.” Qassem said the Iran-backed group would act “no matter the responses” even if it led to a broader conflict.

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah also addressed the matter in a speech on Thursday, threatening that his group would act against Israel if it proceeded with gas exploration or extraction in the disputed field which is claimed by Lebanon. Contradicting earlier promises to leave the matter in the Lebanese government’s hands, Nasrallah also said his group would be forming an internal committee to deal with “everything concerning oil and gas deposits on land or sea, border demarcation, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and everything related to the land border with occupied Palestine.” He said former Hezbollah MP Nawaf al-Mousaoui would head the portfolio.  

Report Documents Over 20,000 Israeli Flights Over Lebanon, Excludes Context 

A Lebanese website, Airpressure.info, purported to document 22,111 Israeli military aircraft intrusions—“violations” as it dubbed them—into Lebanese airspace since 2007. A Guardian report on the site noted that, “maps of the flight routes taken by the jets and drones reveal a spaghetti bowl of loops over most areas of Lebanon. The flights are concentrated in the south, where they appear to follow set routes. But Beirut is also a frequent destination, as are areas north of the capital and closer to the Syrian border.” The report—like the website itself—failed to note, however, that these areas of Lebanese territory subjected to the heaviest Israeli aerial surveillance are also the areas with the heaviest concentration of Hezbollah presence, movement, and weapons.  

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who assembled the research, stressed the toll on the Lebanese civilians living below, compiling 11-peer reviewed papers from scientific journals that detail the acute physiological effects of aircraft noise, with symptoms ranging from hypertension to diminished blood circulation and psychosomatic pains. “While in Lebanon, each one of these acts is felt as a briefly passing moment and no two residents may hear jets in the same way or at the same time,” said Abu Hamdan. “What I aim to present is an accumulated event, one extended crime that has taken place over the past 15 years.”  

The numbers in the report, compiled from 243 letters addressed by Lebanon to the U.N. Security Council and infirmed by Lebanese Army and UNIFIL data, seemed fairly accurate. The disingenuousness, however, lay in ignoring Hezbollah’s concurrent and exponential military build-up during the documented 2007-2022 period, the group’s requirement to disarm per U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and Lebanon’s failure to abide by its obligations under those resolutions.

This failure does not seem to disturb Lebanon, which simply resorts to ignoring or explaining these obligations. One reporter for the ostensibly “independent” and pro-civil society L’Orient Today—groupings hailed in Washington, D.C. corridors as challengers of Hezbollah—Farah-Silvana Kanaan commented on the matter by echoing positions hardly distinguishable from those routinely espoused by Hezbollah itself – saying, “There’s no tit for tat when YOU OCCUPIED US and YOUR STATE IS ILLEGITIMATE. See also: Palestine,” adding “[Israel is] not our ‘neighbor’ you’re our enemy and an illegitimate state,” and “The Israeli Army is the biggest terrorist organization in the world.”


Israel Conducts Several Strikes in Syria

Israel carried out several airstrikes in Syria over the course of the past week. On Monday night, Israeli fighter jets launched a series of airstrikes on an area south of the Syrian capital Damascus, causing damage to several sites, Syria’s official state media reported. The alleged target of the strike was the suburb of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus and near Damascus International Airport, which the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has bombed in the past for allegedly housing Iranian military bases.

Two days later, Israeli tanks targeted positions belonging to the Syrian military near El Malgah in the Quneitra region of southwestern Syria. After the alleged tank strike, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets warning that Israel would not tolerate any presence of the Syrian military in the demilitarized zone. 

Another Israeli airstrike reportedly targeted sites south of the capital Damascus early on Friday, leading Damascus International Airport to temporarily suspend its operations. Syrian media reported that the strike occurred around 4 AM on Friday and injured one person.  

Relatedly, a surface-to-surface missile attack targeting Damascus International Airport that took place two weeks ago and was attributed to Israel was successful in damaging some runways, preventing large cargo planes from landing at the airport, Israel’s Channel 12 News reported. As a result, Iran has been unable to land the Boeing 747 cargo planes it uses to deliver systems equipped with guidance technology for upgrading existing missiles into precision-guided missiles. Citing satellite imagery of the Syrian airport following the alleged attack, the report noted that runways at the site were bombed on both ends, shortening them significantly and preventing large planes from landing.  

Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) 

New TFTC Sanctions 

Building on previous U.S. sanctions, members of the TFTC—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force operatives Ali Qasir, Meghdad Amini, and Morteza Hashemi, who are part of two networks providing financial support to the Quds Force and Hezbollah. They use front companies located in multiple jurisdictions, including in Hong Kong and mainland China. TFTC members also sanctioned Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar (the al-Ashtar Brigades), which are affiliated with the IRGC and based in Bahrain.