Thursday , April 25 2024

7 including Senior Iranian Commander killed in Israeli airstrike


DAMASCUS: Iran has promised to respond after two commanders from its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) were among seven people killed in an Israeli air strike that flattened the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the elite Quds Force of the IRGC and his deputy General Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi were killed in the attack, the IRGC said in a statement on Monday.

Reporters at the scene in Damascus’s Mezzeh district, where the consulate is located, saw smoke rising from rubble, and emergency vehicles parked outside.

Iran’s Ambassador Hossein Akbari, who was not injured, said at least five people had been killed in the attack, including three military personnel.

He said that Tehran’s response would be “decisive”.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian described the attack “as a violation of all international obligations and conventions” and blamed Israel.

In a separate statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said that Iran “reserves the right to carry out a reaction and will decide on the type of response and the punishment of the aggressor”.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad denounced the “terrorist attack”.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack that targeted the Iranian consulate building in Damascus killing a number of innocent people,” Mekdad said in a statement cited by Syrian state news agency SANA.

Russia accused Israel of carrying out an “unacceptable” attack.

“We strongly condemn this unacceptable attack against the Iranian consular mission in Syria,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

When asked about the attack, an Israeli military spokesperson told journalists: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that the United States remained “concerned about anything that would be escalatory or cause an increase in conflict in the region”.

Since Israel launched its war on the besieged Gaza Strip on October 7 following an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, Israel has ramped up air strikes in Syria against Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia and Iran’s IRGC, both of which support the government of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

The strike in Damascus comes just days after Israeli air strikes killed dozens of people in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, amid fears that the Gaza war could lead to a broader regional escalation.

Ali Vaez, director of the International Crisis Group’s Iran Project, says Israel’s alleged attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria is “akin to targeting another country on its own soil”.

“Overall this seems to still be a low-simmer regional war. It’s not yet an all-out regional conflict, but it does appear that Israel is trying to do everything in its power to expand the conflict,” Vaez told media.

“(This) puts Israel in a win-win situation because Israel knows Iran doesn’t want to get dragged into a regional war, so if it escalates its attacks against Iranian assets and personnel in Syria, it probably will be cost free, and if Iran does respond and retaliate, then it becomes a justified pretext for expanding the war.” (Int’l News Desk)

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