Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Middle East & North Africa
Islamic State (ISIS) killed 80 in deadliest bombing in decades, while Iran struck Syria, Iraq and Pakistan in sign of increasingly assertive regional posture amid escalation on multiple fronts fuelled by Gaza war.
ISIS killed scores at ceremony for slain commander. ISIS 3 Jan conducted dual bombings at commemoration ceremony for Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Kerman city (south east), which killed over 80 and injured more than 200, marking deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since 1979 revolution.
Tehran struck out at foes both east and west. IRGC 15 Jan announced it had launched ballistic missiles into Syria’s Idlib purportedly aimed at ISIS, and northern Iraq at sites it claimed were linked to Israeli intelligence. Iranian forces next day launched strikes on village in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, claiming to target “strongholds” of Jaish al-Adl – anti-Iranian Baloch militant group that 15 Dec conducted deadly attack in Iran’s Balochistan province; Pakistan condemned strike and claimed it killed two children. Pakistan 18 Jan launched strikes on village near Iranian border city of Saravan (south east), claiming to target Pakistani Baloch militants; pair took steps to de-escalate late Jan (see Pakistan). Unidentified gunmen 27 Jan killed nine Pakistani workers in Saravan.
Iran-aligned groups continued attacks across region amid Gaza war. Amid Houthi attacks in Red Sea and U.S.-UK retaliatory airstrikes (see Yemen), Iran 15 Jan disavowed involvement. Iran 21 Jan confirmed deaths of five IRGC members in alleged Israeli strikes in Syrian capital Damascus, as President Raisi pledged revenge. Attacks against U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Syria by Iran-aligned groups continued, exceeding 160 incidents from mid Oct to late Jan (see Iraq and Syria). In significant escalation, drone strike 28 Jan, attributed by U.S. to Iran-backed militants, killed three U.S. service members in Jordan; U.S. pledged retaliation (see Jordan).
Iran expanded nuclear activities. After International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) late Dec announced Iran increased three-fold its production of uranium enriched up to 60%, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi 18 Jan stressed need for urgent diplomacy; nuclear expansion, hampered cooperation with IAEA and limited diplomacy with West bode ill for swift resolution of simmering nuclear crisis.