Monday, March 11, 2024

Iran Update, March 11, 2024

Andie Parry, Amin Soltani, Peter Mills, Kathryn Tyson, Anne McGill, Karolina Hird, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Nicholas Carl

Information Cutoff: 2:00pm ET

The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.

Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Key Takeaways:

  • Northern Gaza Strip: Palestinian fighters mortared Israeli forces in Gaza City at least four times.
  • Central Gaza Strip: The IDF conducted an airstrike targeting Hamas’ military deputy commander, Marwan Issa, in Nuseirat.
  • Southern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in northern Khan Younis.
  • Political Negotiations: Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh presented Hamas’ comprehensive demands in ceasefire and hostage negotiations in a speech marking the start of Ramadan.
  • West Bank: Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least eight times.
  • Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: Lebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least eight attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.
  • Syria: Iranian officials expressed their displeasure with the Syrian Bashar al Assad regime’s failure to implement its economic agreements with Iran.
  • Yemen: Houthi-affiliated media reported that the United States and United Kingdom conducted airstrikes targeting three locations in Yemen.
  • Iran: Russia, China, and Iran will hold the joint Maritime Security Belt-2024 naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman between March 11-15.

Gaza Strip

Axis of Resistance campaign objectives:

  • Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza Strip
  • Degrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian fighters mortared Israeli forces in Gaza City at least four times since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on March 10. The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement fired mortars targeting Israeli forces east of Beit Hanoun on March 10.[1] Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is the self-proclaimed militant wing of Fatah, separately claimed mortar attacks targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun neighborhood.[2] PIJ also claimed a mortar attack targeting IDF troops south of Gaza City.[3] The IDF reported that its Nahal Brigade (162nd Division) killed 15 Palestinian fighters south of Gaza City.[4]

An IDF Navy helicopter destroyed an unspecified Palestinian vessel near Gaza City on March 11.[5]

The IDF conducted an airstrike targeting Hamas’ military deputy commander, Marwan Issa, in Nuseirat on March 11. Israeli media reported that Issa was in an underground tunnel in Nuseirat.[6] The IDF did not confirm whether the airstrike killed Issa.[7] The airstrike killed five Palestinians and wounded ten more.[8] Israeli journalists described Issa as the third most senior official in Hamas in the Gaza Strip.[9] Issa worked closely with Hamas’ leader for the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, and the head of Hamas’ military, Mohammad Deif, to plan the October 7 attack.[10]

Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in northern Khan Younis on March 11. The IDF 89th Commando Brigade detained Palestinian fighters and seized weapons and other military equipment in apartment buildings in Hamad.[11] Palestinian fighters fired an anti-tank guided missile at IDF Givati Brigade soldiers in Hamad, after which IDF Maglan Unit soldiers identified and killed the fighters.[12] The Egoz Unit (89th Commando Brigade) clashed with Palestinian fighters in Hamad.[13] The IDF 7th Armored Brigade raided tunnels and weapon assembly sites in Hamad to find explosives, intelligence materials, and small arms.[14] The 7th Brigade has detained dozens of Palestinian fighters, who tried to escape with evacuating civilians since the beginning of Israeli operations in Hamad.[15] The IDF Bislamach Brigade separately targeted Palestinian fighters with aerial, sniper, and tank fire in Qarara on March 11.[16]

Palestinian militias claimed only one attack targeting Israeli forces around Khan Younis on March 11. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), which is a leftist Palestinian militia aligned with Hamas in the war, targeted Israeli armor with an IED in Hamad.[17]

Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh presented Hamas’ comprehensive demands in ceasefire and hostage negotiations in a speech marking the start of Ramadan on March 10. Haniyeh presented five maximalist demands for a hostage-for-prisoner exchange. Haniyeh proposed a comprehensive ceasefire, the complete withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, the complete and unconditional return of displaced Gazans, and the resolution of humanitarian issues, including relief, shelter, and reconstruction, and ending restrictions on the movement of people and goods out of the Gaza Strip.[18] Haniyeh said that the Hamas leadership would reject any agreement that does not meet these demands. Haniyeh’s framework is consistent with Hamas’ public demands over the past week.[19] Hamas’ unwillingness to negotiate on these issues is corroborated by statements from Israeli negotiators.[20] Some of the demands, particularly the permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, remain an obstacle in the ongoing negotiations.

Haniyeh also laid out a proposal for a post-war unified Palestinian government that would include Hamas. Haniyeh called for elections to form a temporary national consensus government until legislative and presidential elections and a Palestinian National Council can be held.[21] Haniyeh presented a vision of an independent Palestinian state comprised of the Gaza Strip and West Bank with the right of return and self-determination.[22] Several Palestinian factions, including Hamas, met in Moscow on February 29 to discuss the formation of a new Palestinian government.[23] Hamas claimed that the talks were constructive, but Fatah leaders were less optimistic, expressing concerns of an international boycott against any government that includes Hamas.[24] Fatah currently leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Haniyeh also called for Palestinians to “protect Jerusalem and al Aqsa Mosque” during Ramadan from any Israeli “conspiracies” to restrict access to these areas.[25] Haniyeh’s statement mirrors his and other Hamas leaders’ rhetoric to “storm” and “march to” al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan over the past several weeks.[26] Haniyeh rejected the Israeli claim that Palestinian militia groups do not want a ceasefire during Ramadan because they intend to use popular anger to “revolutionize the West Bank.”[27]

Palestinian militias did not conduct any indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on March 11.

West Bank

Axis of Resistance campaign objectives:

  • Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them there

Israeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters at least eight times in the West Bank since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on March 10.[28] The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed that it detonated IEDs and fired small arms targeting Israeli forces in Tulkarm and Nablus on March 10.[29]

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated on March 11 that Iran is actively attempting to orchestrate terror attacks by smuggling weapons into the West Bank.[30] Gallant also said that Israel must prepare for an ”increase in terror” during Ramadan, which began on March 10. Israel has repeatedly thwarted attempts to smuggle Iranian-made weapons from Jordan into Israel and the West Bank over the past year.[31]

This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.

Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights

Axis of Resistance campaign objectives:

  • Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them there
  • Set conditions for successive campaigns into northern Israel

Lebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least eight attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on March 10.[32] Hezbollah claimed that it launched four drones targeting Israeli forces at the Kila barracks in the Golan Heights.[33] The IDF said that it detected two drone, which landed in open areas.[34]

Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.

Iran and Axis of Resistance

Axis of Resistance campaign objectives:

  • Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple fronts
  • Set conditions to fight a regional war on multiple fronts

The secretary of the Iranian Supreme Free Trade Zones Council said on March 6 that Iran, Iraq, and Syria are continuing talks to establish a trilateral free trade zone.[35] The secretary noted that the joint free trade zone would facilitate Iranian access to the Mediterranean Sea. Iran and Syria resumed negotiations over the establishment of a joint free trade zone after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Syria in May 2023.[36] The Supreme Free Trade Zones Council secretary said at the time that negotiations had entered a “technical and implementation stage.”[37] CTP-ISW previously assessed that a free trade zone through Iran, Iraq, and Syria would allow Iran to move materials across borders without oversight that would normally enforce sanctions on trade with Iran and Syria.[38]

Iranian officials expressed their displeasure with the Syrian Bashar al Assad regime’s failure to implement its economic agreements with Iran. A senior Iranian member of the Iran-Syria Commerce Chamber said on March 3 that Syria has not fulfilled its part of trade agreements with Iran despite “several meetings” and called on Syria to pay “special attention.”[39] The Iranian Trade Development director general for West Asia similarly noted on March 3 that Iranian exports to Syria declined in 2023.[40] Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Syrian President Bashar al Assad signed 15 economic cooperations agreement in May 2023, covering banking, communications technology, energy, reconstruction, and transportation.[41]

Houthi-affiliated media reported that the United States and United Kingdom conducted airstrikes targeting three locations in Yemen on March 11.[42] The strikes reportedly occurred around Ras Issa, al Urj, and Jabanah in Hudaydah Governorate. Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom have confirmed the strikes as the time of this writing.

Russia, China, and Iran will hold the joint Maritime Security Belt-2024 naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman between March 11-15.[43] Kremlin-affiliated outlet Izvestia reported on March 11 that a detachment ships of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, including the Varyag Slava-class cruiser, arrived at Iran’s Chabahar Port to participate in Maritime Security Belt-2024 alongside Iranian and Chinese naval detachments.[44] The exercise, which was first held in 2019, is intended to practice safe combined naval maneuvers to ensure safe maritime economic activity.[45] The Russian Marshal Shaposhnikov Udaloy-class destroyer; the Chinese Ürümqi destroyer, Linyi frigate, Dongpinghu replenishment ship; and 10 unnamed Iranian ships, boats, and supply vessels and three naval helicopters are taking part in the exercise.[46] Representatives of Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Oman, India, and South Africa will observe the exercise.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei awarded the Order of Fath medal (otherwise known as the Victory Medal) to IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami and Artesh Commander Major General Abdol Rahim Mousavi on March 10.[47] Khamenei awarded Salami and Mousavi for “improving the defense, combat, and deterrence power” of the Iranian armed forces, according to Khamenei‘s website.[48] Notable recipients of this aware include former IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, former IRGC Commander Major General Mohmmad Ali Jafari, IRGC Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, and former Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani.[49]

Western media reported on March 11 that Iran increased its export of liquefied petroleum gas by 28 percent in 2023.[50] Bloomberg noted that Iran has now become the largest Middle Eastern exporter of liquified petroleum gas, largely driven by increased production in the South Pars gas field and a greater shipping capacity between Iran and China. Iranian oil production similarly increased to an all-time high of three million barrels per day in late 2023.[51] Iran exported most of that crude to China. The National Iranian Oil Company chief executive said on March 11 that 2.5 billion barrels were added to Iran’s natural gas and crude oil reserves in 2023.[52]

The Iranian deputy foreign affairs minister for policy met with the Armenian deputy foreign affairs minister in Tehran on March 11.[53] The two officials discussed the Israel-Hamas war, economic cooperation, and regional security in the Caucasus. The Iranian official warned against foreign interference in the Caucasus, referring to the long-held Iranian assertion that Israel and Turkey are expanding their geopolitical influence there via Azerbaijan.[54] Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani similarly warned against extra-regional interference in the Caucasus during their separate meetings with Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan in Tehran on March 6 and 7.[55] The Iranian regime has historically accused Baku of allowing Israel to use Azerbaijani territory to launch operations against Iran.[56] Iran has provided security assistance, including drone sales, to Armenia previously as part of its effort to push back against Azerbaijan.[57]

The Iranian foreign affairs minister’s senior adviser met with the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa development director in Tehran on March 11.[58] The two officials discussed the Israel-Hamas war and called for the continuation of political processes to end conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The Iranian official warned that continued American and British strikes targeting Houthi military capabilities would “disrupt peace efforts” in Yemen. Iranian and Russian officials have engaged in political coordination vis-a-vis the Israel-Hamas war since at least October 26, as CTP-ISW previously reported.[59]

The Iranian parliament has likely approved a controversial veiling bill, although it is unclear if the regime will implement it. An Iranian newspaper reported on March 9 that Parliament approved legislation that would use facial recognition technology to fine unveiled women. This report is consistent with an Iranian parliamentarian’s March 8 claim that Parliament had approved such legislation.[60] The Guardian Council—a regime body that can overrule parliamentary legislation—has rejected prior iterations of Parliament’s hijab bill, however, making it unclear if the recent veiling bill will reach implementation.[61] Discussions surrounding mandatory veiling legislation coincide with social media reports of increased tensions between unveiled Iranian women and hardline clerics in recent days.[62]


[2] ;




[6] ;

[7] ;

[8] ;


[10] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/israel-hamas-both-said-probing-fate-of-terror-groups-no-3-targeted-in-airstrike/



[13] www dot

[14] www dot

[15] www dot



[18] ; ;

[19] ; ;;





[24] ;


[26] ; ;



[29] , , ;

[30] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/gallant-to-troops-iran-smuggling-arms-into-west-bank-gird-for-ramadan-terror

[31]; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/police-say-they-foiled-smuggling-of-137-guns-in-biggest-ever-arms-bust-on-jordan-border




[35] https://en.mehrnews dot com/news/212733


[37] https://www.imna dot ir/news/659485


[39] https://www.tahlilbazaar dot com/news/276313/تجارت-۵-میلیارد-دلاری-تهران-با-دمشق

[40] https://damascusv dot com/archives/59678 ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/12/13/3049169/


[42] https://english dot almasirah dot net dot ye/post/38658/Fresh-US-British-Aggression-on-Hodeidah; ;

[43] https://iz dot ru/1663152/2024-03-11/otriad-korablei-vmf-rf-pribyl-na-ucheniia-v-iran; https://www.interfax dot ru/world/949779;; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2024/03/11/3053472; https://www.iribnews dot ir/fa/news/4179319; https://www.iranintl dot com/en/202403119187; https://www.iranintl dot com/202403117719; dot cn/world/20240311/7d894312b0d3469d93114bdb943fd046/c.html

[44] https://iz dot ru/1663152/2024-03-11/otriad-korablei-vmf-rf-pribyl-na-ucheniia-v-iran

[45] https://iz dot ru/1663152/2024-03-11/otriad-korablei-vmf-rf-pribyl-na-ucheniia-v-iran

[46] https://iz dot ru/1663152/2024-03-11/otriad-korablei-vmf-rf-pribyl-na-ucheniia-v-iran; dot cn/world/20240311/7d894312b0d3469d93114bdb943fd046/c.html

[47] https://www.leader dot ir/fa/content/27046/

[48] https://farsi dot

[49] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1392/10/29/253783



[52] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2024/03/11/3053233

[53] https://en.mfa dot ir/portal/newsview/741105

[54] ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2023/09/04/2951633 ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2023/09/03/2951466 ; https://www.irna dot ir/news/85219411 ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2023/09/04/2951654


[56] ;

[57] https://www.i24news dot tv/en/news/analysis-opinion/1694275613-iran-behind-latest-escalation-between-armenia-azerbaijan ; ;

[58] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/en/news/2024/03/11/3053557/iranian-russian-diplomats-discuss-regional-developments

[59] ; ; ; ; ;

[60]https://farhikhtegandaily dot com/news/95871 ;

[61] https://nournews dot ir/fa/news/156257/

[62] ;