Iran Runs War Drills in Support of 'Palestinian Intifada'

(Tasnim News/Wikimedia Commons)
April 4, 2024

Iran and its military forces in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon held a series of joint war drills on Thursday aimed at supporting "Palestinian Intifada" and sending a warning signal to Israel in the wake of a major strike this week on Tehran's consulate in Damascus.

A more-than-3,000-ship convoy, composed of Iran's volunteer Basij forces, is being led by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, according to Tehran's state-controlled media. The ships are said to be operating "in support of the Palestinian Intifada."

The war force will conduct naval drills "simultaneously in the four other countries in the region including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon to mark the occasion of the International Quds Day," a pro-Palestinian annual event that advocates Israel's destruction.

The military demonstration comes just a day after Israel killed two top Iranian commanders in a strike in Damascus that left a total of seven IRGC operatives dead. The CIA is reportedly warning Israel that Tehran will conduct a retaliatory strike within 48 hours. Thursday's naval drills could serve as a prelude to an attack and demonstrate that Iran is mobilizing its regional allies against the Jewish state as the Middle East sits on the cusp of a broader conflict that could entangle U.S. forces.

The Biden administration reportedly sent a message to Iran this week, warning the country against attacking U.S. forces in the region as part of an anticipated strike on Israel.

"I will just say that we made very clear to the Iranians that we had no involvement in this strike, we didn't know about it at the time, and we warned them not to use this attack as a pretext to attack U.S. facilities or personnel," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Wednesday afternoon, after Israel's strike on Damascus.

Iran says its war convoy will include two warships and will be helmed by IRGC Navy commander Adm. Alireza Tangsiri.

In remarks on Thursday, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi said that peace between Israel and Hamas is impossible.

"It is impossible to normalize relations with the Zionist regime today thanks to the blood of Palestinian combatants," Raisi was quoted as saying in a speech to mark Quds Day. "Today, any compromise plans have gone to the dustbin of history and it is impossible to implement any plan without the participation of the Palestinians."

The Iranian president also said that Wednesday's attack by Israel in Damascus will "not go unanswered."

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden in a phone call Thursday with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an "immediate ceasefire" and pressed the Jewish state's leader to pump more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

Biden's comments signal growing frustration in the administration with Israel's ongoing effort to eradicate Hamas. The administration has been pressing Israel for weeks to increase aid into Gaza and cancel a planned ground incursion into the city of Rafah, though Netanyahu has rejected this call.