Iran Watch Newsletter: April 2024

April 30, 2024

Publication Type: 

  • Newsletters

This month’s newsletter features analyses of Iran’s January missile attacks on Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan and its larger attack on Israel this month. The January strikes contain important hints about the strengths and limitations of Iran’s missile capabilities, which played out during the April 13 attack and the successful air defense operation to blunt it.

The newsletter also includes profiles of a China-based procurement network supporting Iran’s missile and drone programs, as well as news about Iran’s attack on Israel, Israel’s reported reprisal, and a North Korean trade delegation visiting Tehran. Additions to the Iran Watch library include official responses to Iran’s attack against Israel, sanctions imposed on Iran in response to the attack, and other recent sanctions designations and enforcement activity.

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Video footage showed a residence in Erbil after being struck by Iranian ballistic missiles. (Credit: Rudaw English)

Articles and Reports | Before the Bombardment: Revisiting Iran’s January 2024 Missile Strikes on Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan

On January 16—three months before Iran’s large-scale missile and drone attack against Israel—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out a coordinated ballistic missile attack against targets in Iraq and Syria. Less than 24 hours later, it conducted an attack inside Pakistani territory. The operations added to the body of evidence attesting that, even as Iranian missiles have the ability to strike soft, stationary targets with relative precision, Iran’s ability to destroy well-defended, hardened targets remains a work in progress.

Articles and Reports | Iran’s Missile Attack Against Israel

On April 13, Iran launched a large, coordinated attack on Israel, reportedly firing more than 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles over the span of several hours. Remarkably, Israel along with its partners intercepted the overwhelming majority of these, suffering only minor damage at two military bases. An initial analysis explains what weapons Iran fired, what the attack indicates about Iran's missile capabilities in general, and how this operation compares to prior Iranian missile attacks on other targets.




In January 2023, the United States indicted several members of a China-based supply network led by Emily Liu supporting Iran's ballistic missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs.

Rayan Roshd Afzar

An Iran-based technology company with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); according to the U.S. Department of Justice, has procured thousands of U.S.-origin dual-use electronics from China through Emily Liu's procurement network.

Yongxin Li

A Chinese national; a member of procurement networks led by Emily Liu and Rayan Roshd Afzar supporting Iran's military programs; indicted in the United States in January 2024, along with Liu, Yiu Wa Yung, and Yanlai Zhong.

ICGOO Electronics Limited

An online shopping platform headquartered in Beijing; according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has provided sensitive components, including U.S.-origin goods, to Raybeam Optronics Co. Ltd., which is connected to Emily Liu and Rayan Roshd Afzar.




The Isfahan airport and Eighth Shekari Air Base, where Israel reportedly struck an Iranian air defense installation. (Credit: Google Earth)

North Korea Officials Visit Iran in a Rare Public Trip | Reuters

April 23, 2024: Yun Jong Ho, North Korea's minister for international trade, led a delegation to Iran, according to North Korean state media. Yun also visited Moscow earlier in April and has previously worked on North Korea's ties with Syria.

Apparent Israeli Air Attack Strikes Near Iranian City Of Isfahan | Radio Free Europe

April 19, 2024: Israel reportedly launched a strike in Iran targeting an air base near Isfahan. The attack was an apparent retaliation for Iran’s earlier drone and missile attack on Israel. Iranian officials said that the explosions heard near Isfahan were the result of air defenses shooting down three drones. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported no damage to any of Iran’s nuclear sites. Israel also reportedly struck radar installations in Syria on the same day.

A Show of Might in the Skies Over Israel | New York Times

April 15, 2024: Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s strike on an Iranian embassy building in Syria. The United States and Israel shot down nearly all of the munitions, using fighter jets, Navy warships, Patriot batteries, and the Arrow 3 system to destroy them as they crossed through Iraqi and Jordanian airspace. Iran primarily fired Shahed-136 drones, Paveh cruise missiles, and Emad and Kheibar Shekan ballistic missiles.




The permanent members of the U.N. Security Council split over Iran’s April 13 attack on Israel, but called for de-escalation.

  • The Iranian statement framed the attack as part of the country’s inherent right to self-defense – April 14.
  • The Chinese and Russian statements supported Iran’s view and faulted the Security Council for not responding properly following Israel’s earlier strike on the Iranian consular building in Syria – April 14 and 15.
  • The European Union, United Kingdom, and United States condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” with the White House promising a coordinated diplomatic response – April 13 and 14.


Following Iran’s attack on Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry called on countries to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and impose “painful” sanctions on Iran.


The United States also announced new sanctions and enforcement measures unconnected to the April 13 attack.

  • On April 4, the Treasury Department sanctioned a network of 13 vessels managed by Oceanlink Maritime DMCC for facilitating illicit shipments on behalf of Iran’s military – April 4.
  • On April 23, the Treasury Department designated two companies and four individuals involved in malicious cyber activity on behalf of the IRGC Cyber Electronic Command – April 23.
  • In April, the United States transferred light arms and ammunition to Ukraine that had been seized by naval forces in the Arabian Sea en route from Iran to Yemen – April 9.