Iran has become more vocal in its threats against Israel, in response to the soaring death toll in Gaza, which has surpassed 7,000 Gazans killed. Prime Minister Netanyahu has at the same time announced “thousands” of terrorists have been eliminated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Israel has further said it took out three top Hamas commanders in the last several hours.
On Thursday, Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned that if Israel sends ground forces into the Strip, the IDF will be “buried”. He stated: “If the Zionists launch a ground attack in Gaza, they will be buried. If the enemies think that the Muslims will watch these crimes from the sidelines, they are gravely mistaken,” according to a translation in regional media. He also aimed the comments at Washington, saying “the US will be buried by the fire they lit.”
“If the evil people of the world want to carry out a foolish act such as invading the Palestinian territories, they will face a miserable failure and receive a decisive response from the resistance front,” the IRGC statement added.
The US has already parked one carrier strike group in waters off Israel, with another en route, and has been repeatedly warning Tehran not to get involved. National security spokesman John Kirby this week said the US administration stands ready to mount a “decisive response” if Iran or its proxies attack US bases.
However, this appears to already be happening. There has been well over a dozen drone and missile attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria over the past week, with the latest happening Thursday.
There are fresh reports that Iraqi Shia militia groups have launched cross-border attacks on a US installation in northeast Syria. These sporadic attacks now threaten to become a daily event. And now this from Politico on Thursday…
Nineteen American service members stationed in Iraq and Syria have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after rocket and drone attacks from Iran-backed militants last week. https://t.co/dRkEbclN1U
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) October 26, 2023
Adding further to tensions between Washington and Tehran, fresh Wall Street Journal reporting this week has found that Hamas operatives behind the Oct.7 terrorist attack were given specialized training in Iran. According to the report, this involved up to 500 militants:
In the weeks leading up to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, hundreds of the Palestinian Islamist militant group’s fighters received specialized combat training in Iran, according to people familiar with intelligence related to the assault.
Roughly 500 militants from Hamas and an allied group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, participated in the exercises in September, which were led by officers of the Quds Force, the foreign-operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the people said.
Senior Palestinian officials and Iranian Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, the head of Quds Force, also attended, they said.
But then strangely, the same report quotes US officials as saying they can’t verify whether the training on Iranian soil was directly in preparation for the Oct.7 attacks (or else possibly “routine”), which took the lives of at least 1,400 Israelis and foreigners.
“U.S. officials said Iran has regularly trained militants in Iran and elsewhere, but they have no indications of a mass training right before the attack,” WSJ writes. “U.S. officials and the people familiar with the intelligence said they had no information to suggest Iran conducted training specifically to prepare for the events of Oct. 7.”
🚨BREAKING – IRANIAN ARMY:
‘The start of large-scale maneuvers for all ground forces formations starting tomorrow’
These exercises are typically conducted to enhance readiness, test strategies, and improve the overall operational capabilities of the military, but could also be… pic.twitter.com/bA4PhZ3ww3
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 26, 2023
Given the fact that the terror assault involved paragliders, militants on motorcycles, coordinated assault teams with explosives, and other capabilities not used this effectively in the past – many analysts believe the planning for the attack had to have taken many months or even years.