Israeli strike on Iranian consulate in Damascus kills key commander, Iran says | EUROtoday

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An Israeli airstrike hit a constructing subsequent to Iran’s embassy within the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday, killing two senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian state media reported, a major escalation in a area that continues to be roiled by the conflict in Gaza.

The strike killed senior commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hadi Haj Rahimi, together with 5 different officers, in response to a press release from the IRGC.

“Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right under international law and the United Nations Charter to take a decisive response to such reprehensible acts,” Zahra Ershadi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote late Monday in a letter to the U.N. secretary normal.

Israel’s navy, which generally doesn’t affirm strikes in Syria, declined to remark.

Israel has carried out strikes in Syria in opposition to Iran and its allies for years and all through its six-month navy marketing campaign in opposition to Hamas in Gaza. But Monday’s assault stood out each due to its location — in a diplomatic compound, historically exempted from hostilities — and due to the seniority of the obvious goal.

Zahedi was recognized as the pinnacle of Iran’s Quds Force in Lebanon in a 2010 Treasury Department sanctions announcement that accused him of taking part in “a key role in Iran’s support to Hizballah.” He acted as “a liaison” between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence and was “charged with guaranteeing weapons shipments,” in response to the Justice Department assertion.

In a press release, Hezbollah eulogized Zahedi as an “exemplary sacrificer in his love for the resistance in Lebanon and the region” and warned that “this crime will not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge.”

As head of the IRGC within the Levant, Zahedi ran day-to-day operations in Syria and Lebanon, in response to Arash Azizi, an Iran analyst and historian.

“IRGC leadership who are on the front lines of the states neighboring Israel are high-value targets,” mentioned Azizi, “especially those involved in conducting operations with Hamas and Hezbollah.”

What makes Monday’s strike “escalatory and unprecedented,” Azizi added, is that “the building where Zahedi and his colleagues were hit is owned by Iran, and it’s next to the embassy.”

Images of the aftermath from Damascus on Monday confirmed thick clouds of smoke rising from {a partially} collapsed constructing that served because the consulate, adjoining to the Iranian Embassy.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack,” Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad mentioned, in response to Sana, Syria’s state information company.

The strike in Damascus adopted a drone assault in a single day within the southern Israeli metropolis of Eilat, later claimed by Iran-aligned militants in Iraq. Israel’s navy mentioned sirens sounded in Eilat on Monday after troops “identified a suspicious aerial target that crossed from the east toward Israeli territory,” in the end falling on a navy base. No accidents had been reported.

“A UAV made in Iran and directed by Iranians hit a naval base,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari mentioned Monday. “It is a very serious incident.”

The IRGC was arrange within the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution as a counterweight to the nation’s navy. A parallel safety drive that experiences on to Iran’s supreme chief, it has performed a central function in increasing the nation’s affect throughout the area, serving to information a community of allied militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen — described by Tehran because the “axis of resistance.”

By working by means of proxies, analysts say, the IRGC is ready to venture Iranian energy whereas retaining a strategic distance from the combat. But as its allies have ramped up their assaults in response to the conflict in Gaza — with Yemen’s Houthis firing on business ships within the Red Sea; Hezbollah partaking in near-daily exchanges of fireplace with Israel in southern Lebanon; and Iraqi and Syrian militants focusing on U.S. navy bases — the danger of a wider battle has grown.

Suspected strikes by Israel early Friday close to town of Aleppo killed dozens of Syrian troopers and several other members of Hezbollah, in response to a spokesperson for the militant group and Syria’s state information company. In late December, an Israeli strike exterior Damascus took out an IRGC “senior adviser,” Iranian state media reported; one other member of the IRGC, reportedly accountable for facilitating Iranian oil shipments to Syria, was killed in a strike alongside Syria’s Mediterranean coast in early March.

Ershadi, the U.N. ambassador, hinted darkly that Monday’s strike might “exacerbate tensions in the region and potentially ignite more conflict involving other nations.”

The assault was swiftly condemned by Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, which signed a normalization settlement with Israel in 2020.

Regional officers instructed The Washington Post in February that Iran had privately urged Hezbollah and different armed teams to train restraint in opposition to U.S. forces, not wanting to impress a bigger conflict. Analysts concern Monday’s assault might change Tehran’s calculations.

“We are in a very dangerous situation now,” Azizi mentioned. Iran has “a shiny axis of resistance with fighters around the region, but if they can’t respond to Israel killing commanders one after another, they clearly don’t have deterrence.”

Cate Brown contributed to this report.