Militants backed by Iranian forces have been waging attacks on US and Israeli targets since hostilities in the region were ignited in the wake of Hamas’ brutal assault on the Jewish state on October 7.
The campaign, seemingly led my the Yemen-based Houthi group, has threatened to spill over into a broader conflict as the Biden administration struggles to deal with the threat.
In the most recent attack, a drone killed three US servicemen inside of their base in Jordan close to the Syrian border, where numerous other Iranian-backed groups also operate. Over 30 other servicemen were injured in the attack.
The source of the drone is believed to be the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.
The groups have come to be known as the Axis of Resistance by both the Iranian government and the media
They are well supplied and staffed while taking most of their direction from Tehran, analysts say.
Last week, US forces killed Iranian backed Popular Mobilization Front leader Abu Taqwa in an airstrike in Baghdad. So far this year, the American military has been trading blows with Houthi rebels seemingly nonstop.
So what groups could be the cross-hairs of the Biden administration if and when the president decides on his retaliatory strategy.
Hamas says its Oct. 7 attack was a purely Palestinian response to decades of Israeli domination. There is no evidence that Iran, Hezbollah or other allied groups played a direct role or knew about it beforehand.
But when Israel responded by launching one of the 21st century’s most devastating military campaigns in Gaza, a besieged enclave home to 2.3 million Palestinians, the Axis of Resistance — Iran and the militant groups it supports across the region — faced pressure to respond.
The Palestinian cause has deep resonance across the region, and leaving Hamas alone to face Israel’s fury would have risked unraveling a military alliance that Iran has been building up since the 1979 Islamic Revolution put it on a collision course with the West.
The Houthi movement, which controls large parts of Yemen, announced it had entered the conflict on Oct. 31, firing drones and missiles at Israel more than a thousand miles from their seat of power in Sanaa.
In November, the Houthis expanded their role by attacking shipping in the southern Red Sea, saying they were targeting vessels belonging to Israelis or heading to Israeli ports – though some of the targeted ships had no known Israeli links.
The campaign prompted the United States and Britain to launch air strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in January. The Houthis declared all U.S. and British ships and warships taking part in ‘the aggression’ would be targets for the group.
The attacks have disrupted international commerce on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, leading some shipping companies to reroute their vessels.
The United States believes Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have been helping to plan and carry out the Houthi missile and drone attacks. Iran denies involvement.
Sources told Reuters earlier this month that commanders from the IRGC and Hezbollah are on the ground in Yemen helping to direct and oversee Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping. The Houthis denied any Hezbollah or Iranian involvement.
The United States returned the Houthis to its list of designated terrorist groups in response to the shipping attacks.
The heavily armed Lebanese group Hezbollah has been mounting near daily attacks on Israeli targets at the Lebanese-Israeli border since Oct. 8, prompting the heaviest exchanges of fire between the enemies since they waged full-scale war in 2006.
Hezbollah says its attacks have helped to stretch the Israeli army while also uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis who have fled homes near the border. Israeli air and artillery strikes have also forced tens of thousands of Lebanese to flee.
More than 150 Hezbollah fighters and at least 25 Lebanese civilians have been killed, in addition to at least nine Israeli soldiers and a civilian.
A U.S. envoy has been engaged in efforts to prevent the violence from spiralling into an even bigger conflict.
Founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, Hezbollah has served as a model for other Tehran-backed groups across the region, and has also advised or trained some of them.
Hezbollah is widely regarded as more powerful than the Lebanese state and shares Iran’s Shi’ite Islamist ideology.
The United States designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.
The al-Ashtar Brigades are a Bahraini-based Shiite group, backed by Iran, that has been labeled a terrorist organization in its homeland, as well as by the US, Canada, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United States and Canada.
Its members a primarily concerned with the overthrow of the ruling House of Khalifa in Bahrain and to turn the country into a territory of Iran.
The group where the branding of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Faemiyoun Division is the Syrian militia that is loyal to the country’s government and counts among its rivals, ISIS.
In fact the group formed in 2014 as a direct result of the rise of the Islamic State. The group, which counts among its members Hazara Shia Muslims, is also at war with the Taliban.
The militants are ‘mostly in their 20s and 30s … motivated mainly by economic deprivation and vulnerabilities due to their migrant status,’ according to the US Institute of Peace.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Iranian government offered ‘payment’ and ‘legal protections’ for Hazara Shia Muslims who would serve in the group.
However, the same report also says that fighters are recruited through threats and coercion.
The group has a membership of between 20,000 and 50,000, Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency until 2015 told Radio Free Europe in 2020.
Founded in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah is one of the elite Iraqi armed factions closest to Iran.
It is the most powerful armed faction in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of hardline Shi’ite armed groups that have claimed more than 150 attacks on U.S. forces since the Gaza war began.
After its founding, the group quickly developed a reputation for deadly attacks against military and diplomatic targets in the 2000s, using a mixture of sniper, rocket and mortar attacks and roadside bombs.
In 2009, the group was designated as terrorist by the US State Department.
It was led by dual Iraqi-Iranian citizen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020 along with Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s international airport.
The group has a translational Shi’ite ideology that views the borders between Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as Western constructs. It views U.S. troops in Iraq as foreign occupiers and has called for their forceful expulsion.
It fought alongside other Shi’ite militias against mostly Sunni rebels during Syria’s civil war and has continued to operate in Syria since.
A shadowy group with no announced leadership structure, Kataib Hezbollah has thousands of fighters and an arsenal of drones, rockets and short-range ballistic missiles, Iraqi officials and members of the group say.
Source » dailymail