Iran Project

Iran Update, September 22, 2023

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander supervised a joint Iranian-Syrian military exercise in Syria on September 21, possibly to advance the campaign to expel US forces from Syria and reassert bilateral military relations.

The tribal clashes with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have evolved into an insurgency, which likely will facilitate Iran’s efforts to establish a grassroots resistance to expel US forces from Syria.

A coalition of small Iraqi independent political parties called on the United Nations to prevent tampering in the 2023 Iraqi provincial elections.

Iran Update, September 20, 2023

Wagner is vacating its positions in Syria to comply with a Russian Ministry of Defense ultimatum. Iran may assume control of some of the positions to secure military assets and expand its economic operations.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad will travel to China for a “Syrian-Chinese summit” on September 21, very likely to pursue bilateral economic ties.

Iran Update, September 19, 2023

Iran is expanding its military infrastructure in eastern Syria as part of its effort to secure a permanent presence there. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force plans to build up its Soleimani base near Mayadin into the largest Iranian military base abroad, according to local Syrian reporting. This project supports the Iranian effort to become the dominant power in Deir ez Zor Province in eastern Syria. This project ultimately furthers the long-standing Iranian effort to transform Syria into a platform from which Iran can project military strength and facilitate the transfer of arms and military equipment to its so-called “Axis of Resistance.”

Iran Update, September 18, 2023

The IRGC deployed forces to the Iran-Iraq border, likely to coerce the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government to stop threats from anti-Iran opposition groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Iran could also use the recent deployments to conduct attacks against Iraqi Kurdistan should coercion fail.

Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani threatened on September 16 to retaliate against the United States for its decision to unload seized Iranian oil from the Suez Rajan tanker.

Iran Update, September 15, 2023

Iran is forming a tribal militia in eastern Syria likely to advance its campaign to expel the United States from Syria. The coalition between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Arab tribes in Deir ez Zor Province is fracturing amid clashes over long-standing grievances. Pro-regime forces launched attacks and conducted sabotage in SDF-controlled territory in late August and early September. They also directed tribal leaders to attack the US-led international coalition. These actions are consistent with the coordinated campaign that Iran, Russia, and the Syrian regime began forming in November 2022 to expel the United States from Syria. Iran has long sought to build connections with Arab tribes in eastern Syria to form militias and acquire leverage against the United States and the SDF.

Iran Update, September 14, 2023

The IRGC Quds Force and LH are trying to significantly increase their military infrastructure in Mayadin in eastern Syria. The expanding presence there in part supports the Iranian campaign to expel US forces from Syria.

Iranian-backed political actors in Iraq are preparing to coopt legal procedures and requirements to disqualify opponents in the upcoming Iraqi provincial elections in December 2023.

Iranian leaders are using a combination of military threats and foreign diplomacy to resolve three simultaneous security challenges around northwestern Iran.

Iran Update, September 11, 2023

Iranian officials met with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government officials to discuss disarming Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Iranian forces deployed to Kurdish areas in western Iran, possibly to deter protests on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death.

Iran is attempting to mitigate tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This follows reports of a military buildup on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border with both sides engaging in threatening rhetoric over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in recent days.

Iran Update, September 8, 2023

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) redeployed “hundreds” of Iranian-backed militants from eastern Syria to northwestern Syria in response to mounting tensions with Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and other anti-regime militias. These militants came from the Fatemiyoun Division, which is an IRGC-controlled Afghan Shia militia that has fought extensively throughout Syria. The IRGC sent the Fatemiyoun fighters to Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions in Aleppo, Homs, and Latakia provinces, according to Syrian opposition media. These deployments occurred as fighting between HTS and pro-regime forces has intensified in recent weeks. Recent HTS attacks against the SAA have caused an unusually high number of casualties compared to previous attacks.

Iran Update, September 7, 2023

Key Takeaways

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has sent over 60 Iranian-backed militants to Daraa Province to prevent the expansion of the ongoing, anti-Syrian regime protests in southern Syria.

Leaders from Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad met in Beirut and echoed Iranian leaders’ calls for greater cooperation among these groups against Israel.

Iranian authorities are continuing to take measures to deter and prevent anti-regime protests ahead of the anniversaries of Mahsa Amini’s death and the “Bloody Friday” incident on September 16 and 30, respectively.