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The Early Phoenix

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Houthi Rampage, Israeli Strikes in Syria & Lebanon, and Iranian Bid to Liberate ISIS ‘Cubs

TOP HEADLINES:

  • Houthis Target French, U.S., and Israeli Ships
  • Israel Strikes Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas 
  • Strikes On Iranian Targets in Deir ez-Zor.
  • Erdogan Revokes Egyptian Brotherhood Leader’s Citizenship
  • Today’s Iranian Claim: 10,000 Tons Warship Allegations

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★ YEMEN

  1. Houthis Target French, U.S., and Israeli Ships.

Less than 24 hours after the European Union formally launched “ASPEEDS” naval mission in the Red Sea, the Houthis reported striking a French battleship and the French Ministry confirmed by announcing it had intercepted the two drones coming from Yemen. The Houthi leader Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi in a televised comment on the European campaign said “ We tell the Europeans not to play with fire,” while in the background was a video broadcast of shooting down the MQ9 American drone. According to Houthi sources, the drone that was shot down was among the most recent American drones and included high technological specifications, including an advanced radar system, high-resolution cameras and sensors that can scan an area 360 degrees in diameter, and the value of the plane, along with the control room, missiles and other devices, is $30 million.

On the same day in the evening, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at U.S. Sea Champion on its way to deliver grain donations from Argentina to Aden, the headquarters of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. A source in the port of Aden, who refused to reveal his identity, said that the attack on the ship occurred by mistake. A separate source in Hodeidah, who also requested to remain anonymous, stated that the Houthis informed them that the attack was not intentional. The Greek cargo ship “Sea Champion” arrived at the port of Aden after being subjected to an unintended missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea late yesterday, Tuesday, February 20, according to shipping and military sources.

The British maritime security firm Ambrey Also reported that on Tuesday, the Yemeni Houthi movement, targeted a Liberian-flagged cargo ship en route to Somalia in the Gulf of Aden near the Red Sea. The Houthis claimed responsibility for attacking the Israeli cargo vessel MSC Silver with missiles, along with several American warships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, and sites in Eilat, southern Israel, utilizing drones. The targeted ship, described by the Houthis as Israeli, is operated by Wazim Integrated Shipping Services, an Israeli company with ties to ZIM and regular visits to Israeli ports.

On the same day, the US Navy News reported that the US Central Command destroyed an underwater drone in Houthi-controlled Yemeni waters, marking the first observation of the Houthis using unmanned submarines. This incident follows a US Coast Guard interception of an Iranian arms shipment to the Houthis, containing components for unmanned surface and underwater vessels.

Early today, on Wednesday, American-British fighter jets launched two raids on Hodeidah Governorate, west of the country. Houthi media confirmed, “The raids targeted the Al-Jabbana area, north of Hodeidah.” 

Meanwhile, Tehran Times praised the Houthis’ significant escalations, attributing it as a response to the American designation of Ansarullah as a terrorist organization. The newspaper provided a detailed 24 hour Houthi achievement report saying, Ansarullah forces targeted two American vessels, the “Sea Champion” and “Navis Fortuna,” in the Gulf of Aden, and struck the British cargo ship Rubymar with two missiles, causing extensive damage. Yemeni forces ensured the safe exit of Rubymar’s crew. The paper’s mention of the downing of the MQ-9 came in the form of stating that this is the second incident an American drone is shot down citing November 8, 2023. 

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

  1. Gaza Protests Erupt, Israel Targets Hamas.

Civilians in Jabaliya and Rafah, Gaza, demonstrated against Hamas leadership, with videos showing direct criticism of Yaha Sinwar. In a parallel operation, the IDF neutralized three Qassam Brigades operatives and arrested 14 suspects in Jenin. Qatar’s confirmation of Hamas distributing medical supplies to Israeli hostages highlights the evolving situation. One Israeli soldier killed and two others were reported seriously wounded in north Gaza, this Wednesday. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 118 people were killed in Gaza during the last day. 

  1. Israel Strikes Hezbollah.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Israel began its airstrikes campaign against Hezbollah headquarters. The raids covered massive areas in southern Lebanon and involved airstrikes, air-to-surface missiles, and bombs resulting in visible destruction. Two hours later, Hezbollah claimed they targeted groups of Israeli soldiers in northern Israeli settlements.   

  1. Israel Strikes Syria.

Israeli airstrikes targeted Damascus in two separate incidents on Wednesday, resulting in at least two fatalities. The initial attack struck an apartment in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood, a known base for Iranian militias, causing two deaths of non-Syrians. Local Damascus sources said the two apartments targeted were inhibited by an Iranian leader and his escort. Later, a second strike hit the Dimas area, northwest of Damascus.

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★ IRAN 

  1. Today’s Iranian Claim: 10,000 Tons Warship Allegations.

Iran’s Defense Ministry spokesperson, Brigadier General Reza Talaei-Nik, allegedly made claims about ongoing construction of warships weighing up to 10,000 tons, purportedly indicating Iran’s maritime advancements. Alleged assertions emphasize tailored defense structures for Army and IRGC, along with the alleged delivery of Karrar tanks to ground forces and purported advancements in drone capabilities. Other allegedly recycled weapons showcased anew are part of Iran’s efforts to bolster military capabilities. The Shahed-131 drone, featured in January drills, enhances surveillance and combat abilities. Tehran Times said the old/new drone demonstrated effectiveness in engaging targets, including simulated strikes on a facility resembling Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant. With dimensions of 2.6m x 2.2m, weighing 135 kg, and a 900 km range, its unique design contributes to operational prowess.

  1. Iran Accuses Israel of Gas Pipeline Sabotage.

Iranian Oil Minister Jawad Oji accused Israel of carrying out an attack on gas pipelines in Iran on February 14, which he described as an “act of terrorist sabotage.” The attack, which did not result in casualties, affected gas supplies in three governorates, causing unrest and material damage. Ogi described the incident as part of an “Israeli plot” to cut off gas supplies, but it was quickly addressed. He also mentioned the December cyber attack targeting Iranian gas stations, accusing the United States and Israel of responsibility. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called for an investigation and immediate action to address the damage. 

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★ SYRIA

  1. Unidentified Strikes On Iranian Targets in Deir ez-Zor. 

Hours after Iranian-backed militias attacked the Conico field housing U.S. forces, a series of unidentified airstrikes targeted an Iranian security compound and militia positions in Deir ez-Zor. The strikes, hitting at least three pro-Iranian militia locations in the city’s southern desert, coincided with sightings of unidentified warplanes, indicating a possible retaliatory action.

  1. Iranian Militias Strike ISIS Prison in Bid to Free ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’.

Iranian-backed militias targeted with a missile the outer wall of Ghweran prison in Al-Hasakah, northeastern Syria, which houses leaders and members of ISIS. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicated that the missile was launched from an area outside Hasakah, possibly coming from militias affiliated with Iran, near an American military base. In light of the threats, American forces lowered their flag from the targeted base, and American forces withdrew from the village of Himo to the Tal Baidar base. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported that the missile attack on Al-Sinaa Prison resulted in minor injuries among some prisoners and thwarted the escape attempt of dozens of them. The strike specifically targeted the hangar that houses the “Cubs of the Caliphate.” 

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★ TURKIYE

  1. Erdogan Revokes Egyptian Brotherhood Leader’s Citizenship.

Upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s return from his historic visit to his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Turkish government revokes the citizenship of Mahmoud Hussein, the acting guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and others for real estate fraud, amidst allegations of a citizenship sale mafia within the Brotherhood charging up to $60,000 per person. This move, aligning with the crackdown on fraudulent citizenship practices and the exploration of Malaysia as a potential refuge for affected Brotherhood leaders, marks Erdogan’s mercurial strategy to balance domestic interests, international relations, and Turkiye’s standing on the global stage, as he navigates the complex web of political alliances and oppositions. 

📌 Incase you missed it,

📰 Iran’s Imminent Game: Steering Assad Toward an Inevitable Clash with Israel

📰 The Early Phoenix February 20, 2024

🌍 The Region – Feb 12, 2024

🔗 Follow the latest news from the American Center for Levant Studies via Google News

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