Iran News Round Up

The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.


Key takeaway: Iranian news outlets reported the death of an additional Artesh officer in Syria, bringing the total number of Artesh casualties in recent days to four.

In response to these casualties, Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan explained that the Artesh “has sent service members from various units to Syria as advisors. But the Artesh does not have an [entire] unit active in Syria.” Pourdastan also claimed that the four Artesh officers were killed south of Aleppo.

The newly formed IRGC Ground Forces Air Assault unit joined a number of IRGC Ground Forces divisions and brigades on the first day of a two-day military drill in the southeastern provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kerman, and South Khorasan.


AEI Must-Reads

  • Frederick W. Kagan and Vice Admiral John Miller (USN, Ret.) examine how Iran’s military shopping list could force the West to alter how it operates in the Persian Gulf in “Iran is muscling up. We should push back.
  • Paul Bucala analyzes Iran's deployment of Artesh special forces to Syria in "Iran in Syria: flexing more, not less, military muscle."  See also Bucala and Frederick W. Kagan, “Iran’s Evolving Way of War: How the IRGC Fights in Syria.”
  • Alice Naghshineh and Ken Hawrey have published a translation of an article from Iranian newspaper Shargh that provides insights into the Artesh’s evolving rhetoric towards the Syrian conflict and the organization of the Artesh 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade, elements of which have deployed to the conflict. Read the translation here.

  • Marie Donovan discusses IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari’s warning to President Hassan Rouhani not to engage further with the West in “IRGC Commander warns President Rouhani to back off.”
  • Matthew McInnis discusses Iran’s consensus on the need to strengthen its ballistic missile program and U.S. strategies for mitigating and responding to Iranian missile advances in his latest blog, “Iran’s missile happy ‘moderates.’”


Military and Security

  • IRGC launches “Great Prophet” military drills. The “Great Prophet” military drills scheduled to take place in Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kerman, and South Khorasan provinces began today. The drills will run through April 14. According to IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, the drills will feature several IRGC Ground Forces divisions and brigades as well as Saberin special forces.
    • The newly formed IRGC Ground Forces Air Assault unit began conducting exercises against “mock targets” as a part of the “Great Prophet” drills. Iranian media reports suggest that several Mil Mi-17 helicopters from the unit were involved in the drill.
    • Military news outlet Defa Press announced that the Hammasseh drone, along with the Mohajer, Ababil, and Shahed drones, are being tested.
    • Defa Press also reported that IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari appointed General Rahmani Ghahrood as the commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Air Assault unit. (Defa Press) (Fars News Agency) (Defa Press) (Press TV) (E)


Domestic Politics

  • Head of Tehran Reformist Coalition: Rouhani, Rafsanjani, and Khatami all agree on Aref. Ali Sufi claimed that “reformist leaders” Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President Hassan Rouhani, and former President Mohammad Khatami have “agreed among themselves on the [subject of the] parliament speakership.” The Tehran Reformist Coalition head claimed that their “agreement was and is” that senior reformist parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref will become the speaker of the next Parliament. Sufi added that if reformists hold a majority in the next parliament, then “certainly and without a doubt Aref will be the next speaker.” (Tasnim News Agency)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Iranian Hajj delegation leaves for Saudi Arabia. A delegation led by Chairman of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi departed Iran for a trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss arrangements for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. This visit will mark the first diplomatic exchange between Iran and Saudi Arabia since ties were severed on January 3. Iranian officials have repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia of mismanagement of the Hajj after a stampede last year left over 2,000 people dead, according to a Reuters tally. (Tasnim News Agency)


  • Italy and Iran sign seven memorandums of understanding. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and a delegation of 60 Italian business leaders arrived in Iran on April 12. Iran and Italy signed seven memorandums of understanding in the sectors of energy, railways, and defense. Western media reports have estimated that the deals signed are “potentially worth billions.” ( ( (



  • Nobakht: Administration committed to preserving subsidies of needy. Rouhani administration spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated that “the administration will strive to codify an executory regulation for removing the subsidies of the [top 30 percent of society] such that no needy individual has his subsidies cut.” He stressed the significant role subsidies play in supporting the livelihood of Iranian households. On April 11, the Parliament approved the general outline of the annual budget, which called for the removal of subsidies for the top 30 percent of society. (ICANA)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Artesh officer killed in Syria.
    • Captain Morteza Zaharand was a member of the 258th Special Forces Brigade.‌ (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Pourdastan reacts to recent Artesh casualties in Syria. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan explained that the Artesh “has sent service members from various units to Syria as advisors. But the Artesh does not have an [entire] unit active in Syria.”
    • Pourdastan also attended the funeral ceremony for four recent Artesh casualties in Syria on April 12. Pourdastan stated that the recent Artesh casualties died during “the massive attack by Jabhat al Nusra and other Takfiri groups south of Aleppo” that occurred over the past week.
    •  Pourdastan also discussed the Artesh’s decision to deploy forces abroad, stating “We have a duty as the soldiers of the sacred order of the Islamic Republic. Wherever the mission might be, we will be there to perform the mission.” The Artesh’s move to deploy troops abroad is particularly significant because the Artesh’s mission has historically been limited to defending Iran’s borders. (Defa Press) (Tasnim News Agency)



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