Explainer: what we know about the latest Middle East attacks

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Iran has launched strikes on sites in Pakistan and Iraq, and the US has struck Houthi sites in Yemen. Meanwhile efforts are continuing to deliver aid to Gaza

  • Middle East crisis: latest updates
  • Emergency services clear the rubble of the house that was hit by an Iranian missile strike in Irbil, Iraq, on Tuesday. Photograph: Julia Zimmermann/AP

Tensions have continued to rise across the Middle East, with violence spreading to the farthest reaches of the region, even as diplomatic efforts ramp up. The deadly 7 October by Hamas on Israel – and the subsequent bombardment of Gaza – has inflamed long-frozen conflicts, the repercussions of which are now being felt all over the world.

Here are the latest flashpoints:


  • Iran has launched airstrikes in Pakistan, apparently aimed at a Sunni militant group. Iran has long suspected Sunni-majority Pakistan as hosting insurgents and local media reported that the strikes were aimed Jaish al-Adl, a group who have claimed bombings and kidnapped Iranian border police in the past.

  • Pakistan’s government said the attacks late on Tuesday killed two children and wounded three others, describing the assault as an “unprovoked violation” of its airspace.

  • The strikes in Pakistan came less than a day after Iranian missiles hit targets in Syria and Iraq, in what have been seen as reprisals in the wake of a double suicide bombing in the city of Kerman on 3 January which killed more than 80 Iranians.

  • Iraq has vowed to take Iran to the UN security council after Monday’s strikes, which Tehran claims were aimed at Israeli “espionage headquarters” in the northern city of Erbil.

The Red Sea and Yemen

  • The US launched a new wave of strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, in what was the third assault on the Iranian-backed group in recent days. On Thursday, the US and UK hit Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen for the first time, in response to continued attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

  • The latest attack on Red Sea shipping saw the Houthis hit a Greek-owned cargo ship with a missile off the coast of Yemen as it headed to the Suez canal. No injuries were reported and the vessel remained navigable.

  • Separately, US Navy Seals boarded a boat heading for Yemen and seized Iranian-made weapons which it said were bound for Houthi forces. The incident occurred last Thursday and two Navy Seals who were declared missing on Monday were involved in the operation, the military said.

  • The Biden administration is expected to announce plans to redesignate the Houthis as global terrorists, US media reported on Tuesday. The group were delisted from US terrorism lists in 2021 in an effort to make it easier to get humanitarian aid into Yemen.

Israel and Gaza

  • A deal to allow the delivery of medicines to hostages in Gaza, as well as additional aid for civilians in the territory has been agreed, Qatar announced. The International Committee of the Red Cross will facilitate the delivery of aid.

  • The future governance of Gaza has been a matter of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Norway’s foreign minister said European and Arab countries along with the United States are working on a concept for a unified Palestinian government that could attract reconstruction funds.

  • The US has warned that some Arab countries are not keen to get involved in the rebuilding of Gaza if the Palestinian enclave will be “levelled” again in a few years.

  • Qatar’s prime minister used a meeting at the forum to say that Israel must agree to a time-bound, mandatory path to a two-state solution.

  • The Guardian


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