IRGC commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi, center, see n with Quds Force commander in the foreground.

Israeli Airstrike Kills Iranian Commander In Syria

Monday, 04/01/2024

An Israeli airstrike targeting Iran's consulate building close to its embassy in Damascus killed a senior Revolutionary Guard commander and multiple Iranian officials on Monday.

A security source revealed to Reuters that the strike resulted in the death of Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. Additionally, Iran's Arabic language Al Alam TV reported the complete destruction of the Iranian consulate building in Syria.

According to follow-up reports, General Mohammad-Hadi Haji-Rahimi, a deputy of Quds Force general Zahedi, was also killed in the strike.

The Iranian ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, who was not injured, said at least five people had been killed in the attack and that Tehran's response would be "harsh".

Later on Monday, the IRGC in an official statement confirmed the deaths of Zahedi and Haji-Rahimi, as well as five other officers identified as Hossein Amanollahi (earlier identified as Amirollah), Mehdi Jalalati, Mohsen Sedaghat, Ali Agha-Babaei, and Ali Salehi Rouzbahani.

Members of Syrian Red Crescent work near the damaged site after what Syrian and Iranian media described as an Israeli air strike on Iran's consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus April 1, 2024.

Syria's SANA state news agency confirmed significant destruction to a building in the Mezzeh neighborhood, with neighboring structures also affected.

Reuters reporters at the site in the Mezzeh district of Damascus saw emergency workers clambering atop rubble of a destroyed building inside the diplomatic compound, adjacent to the main embassy building. Emergency vehicles were parked outside. An Iranian flag hung from a pole in front of the debris.

The Syrian foreign minister and interior minister were both spotted at the scene.

Israel, which has repeatedly hit Iranian targets during the six-month war in Gaza, declined to comment on the incident, following its usual practice, Reuters reported. An Israeli military spokesperson said: "We do not comment on reports in the foreign media."

Israel's recent airstrikes have intensified in the wake of Iran-backed Hamas's invasion of Israel on October 7, with a focus on targeting senior Iranian personnel and bases associated with Iran's IRGC. Several militia forces in Syria have come under fire and Zahedi is the latest commander targeted in a series of assassinations this year alone.

Iranian state television said several Iranian "diplomats" had been killed. Iran's Tasnim news agency said five people were killed in the Israeli strike. Syria's SANA state news agency reported an unspecified number of deaths and injuries.

Iran's involvement in the Syrian civil war, which began over a decade ago in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been a source of contention with Israel. Viewing the presence of Iranian forces in Syria as a direct threat, Israel has consistently targeted their bases and weapons concentrations since 2017.

An Israeli military spokesperson said: "We do not comment on reports in the foreign media."

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