US diplomat in the United Nations Robert A. Wood speaks to delegates during a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN, New York, April 2, 2024.

US Warns Iran Not To Target It Over Syria Strike

Tuesday, 04/02/2024

The United States warned Iran on Tuesday not to retaliate against it for an attack on Iran's embassy compound in Syria, telling the UN Security Council it had no warning of the Israeli strike.

The Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the attack, which Israel has not officially taken responsibility for.

The strike on Monday - that Iran said killed two of its IRGC Quds Force generals and five other officers of the extra-territorial unit - marked one of the most significant attacks yet on Iranian interests in Syria, where Israel has stepped up a long-running campaign against Iran.

"We will not hesitate to defend our personnel and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of the situation - again, an attack in which we had no involvement or advanced knowledge - to resume their attacks on U.S. personnel," said deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood.

Attacks by Iran-backed proxies against US troops based in Iraq and Syria stopped in February after Washington retaliated for the killing of three US troops in Jordan with dozens of airstrikes on targets in Syria and Iraq linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and militias that it supports.

Wood also slammed the aggressive tactics used by Iran and its proxies. "The United States has repeatedly warned Iran not to take advantage of the situation to escalate its longstanding proxy war against Israel and other actors," he told the Security Council.

French, Maltese, US and UK diplomats talk before the UN Security Council meeting on April 2, 2024.

Iran has ignored that warning. Terrorists and other armed groups, some backed by the Syrian regime and Iran, have used Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks on Israel and U.S. facilities and personnel.

Iran told the 15-member Security Council that it reserves the right "to take a decisive response" to the attack, accusing Israel of violating the founding UN Charter, international law, and the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises.

"The United States is responsible for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime," said Iran's deputy UN Ambassador Zahra Ershadi, accusing the US of trying to destabilize Syria and the region and calling it out for supporting Israel in its war with Palestinian militants Hamas. She added that Israel is seeking to escalate tensions in the region while avoiding full responsibility for its actions.

Ershadi called on the Security Council to condemn the attack on Iran's diplomatic premises in Damascus. Wood said that Washington does not yet have confirmation of the status of the building that was struck in Damascus.

"Any confirmed attack on property that was in fact a diplomatic facility would be of concern to the United States," he said. "Diplomatic missions and their property, as well as official diplomatic residences must be protected, even and especially in times of armed conflict."

Iran has fully supported Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and has vowed to continue assisting the “Resistance Front”, until the destruction of the Jewish state. Iran’s Resistance Front is a collection of armed and militant groups in the region, stretching from Iraq to Lebanon and Yemen.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier on Tuesday condemned the attack in Damascus, calling on "all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

"He cautions that any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East," said Dujarric.

However, Monday’s airstrike coincided with a public holiday for Iranian officials, who commemorate the death anniversary of the first Shiite Islamic Imam, and the embassy should have been closed. The IRGC officers present on the premises were not diplomats and were reportedly holding a military meeting.

Although Israel has not taken responsibility for the strike, Iran International sources say it was an Israeli operation.

With reporting by Reuters

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