Jihadis From Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, And Yemen Amass In Multifront Threat To Israel

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November 21, 2023

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Iran and its regional proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, have joined in hostilities against Israel and the U.S. in a multifront maneuver which threatens regional escalation. Iran-backed groups have conducted attacks from Israel's north, east and south to bolster Hamas's war aims and detract from the Israeli response to the militant group in Gaza. Below, MEMRI JTTM provides an update on the most recent developments in the multifront threat to Israel.

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Lebanese Hizbullah (LH) Has Fired More Than 1,000 Munitions At Northern Israel Since War Began

Lebanese Hizbullah (LH) has fire more than 1,000 munitions at northern Israel from Lebanon since October 8.[1] These near-daily attacks include rockets, drones, and missiles; LH has also permitted Palestinian militants and other Iran-backed fighters to use southern Lebanon as a launchpad for attacks into Israel. On November 6, 2023, the online Rai Al-Youm daily reported that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have both asked LH to give them greater freedom and independence in their operations against Israel from south Lebanon, suggesting intent for a possible escalation in attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil.[2]

Iran-Backed Fighters Conduct Military Build-Up In Syria

Concurrent with skirmishes on the Israeli-Lebanese border, attacks on Israel have also been staged from Syria. On October 30, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Iran-backed terrorist groups of threatening to expand the Gaza conflict "by using Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks against Israel."[3] MEMRI JTTM also warned in an October 31 report about the possibility of Iran opening a front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.[4]

Hundreds of fighters from Iran-backed militias from the Deir Al-Zour, Homs, and Aleppo regions have been reportedly stationed in southern Syria, primarily in the Quneitra region on the border with Israel, in northern Daraa, and adjacent to the city of Nawa situated between Quneitra and Daraa. On November 12, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 700 Elite Forces trained by Hizbullah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have assumed "complete control" of the areas of southern Syria near the border with the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, including the Quneitra governorate, the western part of Rif Dimashq governorate, and parts of western Daraa governorate.[5]

Iraqi Fighters Amass At Israel's Northern Border

Iran-backed Iraqi militia leaders have also been photographed in southern Lebanon amid reports that Iraqi fighters have amassed on the Israeli border. On October 18, secretary-general of the True Promise Legion, Mohammed Al-Tamimi, claimed that 5,000 Iraqi fighters were at the Israeli border, waiting for orders to invade.[6] These fighters reportedly include operatives from the Sayyid Al-Shuhada' Brigades, the Imam Ali Brigades, the Al-Nujaba' Movement, and the True Promise Legion. Imam Ali Brigades commander Ayoob Falih Hasan Al-Rubaie has also posted several times on X (formerly Twitter), noting he is located in southern Lebanon.[7] Sayyid Al-Shuhada secretary-general Abu Alaa Al-Walae was also photographed standing on what was identified as a section of the border with Israel on October 15. The movement of Iraqi fighters to the theater also comes as Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has attempted to mobilize large gatherings of Iraqis on buses to Israel's border in protest over the conflict.

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Strike U.S. Forces In Iraq And Syria In More Than 60 Attacks

As Iran-backed forces amass on Israel's borders, Iraqi militias have simultaneously escalated attacks against U.S. presence in Iraq and Syria. Since October 17, the Islamic Resistance of Iraq – an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias in Iraq – has claimed responsibility for near daily rocket and drone attacks targeting U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq. In total, the organization has claimed more than 60 attacks on U.S. forces to date.

Iraqi militias have also threatened further escalation against the U.S., both within Iraq and the broader region. For example, on November 20, the Al-Nujaba' Movement announced in a statement that the group unveiled a new unmanned boat created by its manufacturing and development unit, warning: "Just as our rockets reached you on land, we have something waiting for you at sea, as well. There will be no enemy target which our fire will not reach, and Allah bears witness to what we say."[8]

From South, Yemen's Ansar Allah Houthi Movement Threatens U.S., Israeli Interests In Air And Sea Attacks

The Houthi Ansar Allah Movement has ratcheted up pressure on Israel and the U.S. from Yemen, where the group has claimed both land and sea attacks against Israeli and U.S. targets. Most recently, on November 19, the Houthis claimed the seizure of what they claimed was "an Israeli ship" in the Red Sea, which came as part of an earlier pledge to target all the vessels of "the Israeli enemy and those who are connected to it" in the strategic waterway.[9]

Since October 7, the Houthi Ansar Allah Movement has also claimed responsibility for launching six rounds of drones and missiles at Israel, as well as downing a U.S. MQ-9 drone over Yemeni airspace.[10] In statements, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea has threatened to deal "additional high-quality blows with rockets and drones until the halting of Israeli aggression."[11]

The attacks come as Houthi leaders repeatedly threaten military escalation against Israel and the U.S. For example, in a public address on November 14, Houthi leader Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi warned: "We will continue to plan additional operations against every Zionist target that we can reach, in Palestine or beyond it, and we will not hesitate to do so."[12]

 

[1] Times of Israel, November 19, 2023.

[3] AP News, October 30, 2023.

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