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Hostilities between Iran-backed groups and U.S. forces across region underscored risk of escalation amid Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, while UN’s nuclear watchdog voiced concern over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
Tit-for-tat attacks between Iran-backed groups and U.S. continued across region. String of attacks since mid-Oct attributed to Iran-linked factions against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria continued during Nov amid Israel’s onslaught in Gaza (see Israel-Palestine), further eroding relative quiet stemming from informal diplomatic understandings between Tehran and Washington; as of 29 Nov, U.S. tallied approximately 74 incidents and around five dozen casualties, though pace of attacks fell as Gaza truce took effect late Nov. Notably, U.S. 8 and 12 Nov launched retaliatory airstrikes in eastern Syria against facilities allegedly linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) (see Syria), and 20-21 Nov launched first deadly retaliatory strikes on Iran-backed targets in Iraq (see Iraq). FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian 15 Nov maintained perpetrators were making “own decisions”; attacks seem intended to dissuade Israel from deepening campaign in Gaza and to signal to Washington risks of association with Israel but any attack claiming significant casualties could trigger escalatory spiral. Meanwhile, Iranian officials sought to push for Israel’s diplomatic isolation, including during President Raisi’s attendance at summits 11 Nov (see Saudi Arabia).
Concerns over Iran’s uranium enrichment resurged. International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) quarterly report 15 Nov showed further growth of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles and continued impasse over safeguards concerns and transparency; Iran has amassed total enriched uranium stockpile of almost 4.5 tonnes, including 6.7kg enriched to 60%, closest to weapons grade. IAEA at 22 Nov board meeting reiterated criticism of Iran’s 16 Sept decision to bar top inspectors and reported no progress in investigations into past activities at undeclared sites.
U.S. sanctioned Iran-affiliated militias and military financial networks. Washington and UK 14 Nov blacklisted Gaza- and Lebanon-based entities linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. U.S. 17 Nov sanctioned six individuals linked to Kata’ib Hizbollah militia in Iraq and another group linked to IRGC. U.S. 29 Nov designated more than twenty persons/entities part of “financial facilitation networks” benefitting Iranian military.
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