An ambulance is parked outside the Iranian embassy after an Israeli strike on Monday on Iran's consulate, adjacent to the main Iranian embassy building, in the Syrian capital Damascus, April 2, 2024.

Khamenei Vows Revenge For Israeli Attack On Tehran’s Consulate

Tuesday, 04/02/2024

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has vowed to "punish" Israel for the attack on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus that killed seven Revolutionary Guards including two generals.

In a message released Tuesday, Khamenei said, “The nefarious regime will be punished by our brave men. We will make them regret this crime and other ones like it, by God's will.”

His message came a day after an airstrike leveled Tehran’s consulate, next to the embassy building in Damascus’s Mezzeh district, killing Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, the extraterritorial wing of the IRGC. General Mohammad-Hadi Haji-Rahimi, a deputy of Zahedi, and five other officers were also killed. 

Iran's state broadcaster announced that in addition to seven members of the Revolutionary Guards, six Syrians were also killed. At least one member of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah was also killed in the strike, two security sources in Lebanon told Reuters.

Israel has not commented on the allegations. However, Iran International sources in Israel have revealed that the country has attacked Tehran’s consulate in response to the continuous and repeated attacks by the Islamic Republic and its proxy forces against Israel, including the drone strike on the Eilat naval base.

A drone, apparently launched from Iraq, struck a hangar in a naval base in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat early Monday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group representing several IRGC-backed factions, said it had struck a “vital target” in Israel “with appropriate weapons,” without elaborating further. Eilat has come under attack by other Iran-backed groups amid the war in the Gaza Strip, including Yemen’s Houthis and a group in Syria linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Last month, a missile fired from Yemen landed outside the southern town of Eilat, penetrating Israel's Iron Dome air defense system which had failed to intercept targets fired to its southern front. 

A senior Israeli government official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said those hit had "been behind many attacks on Israeli and American assets and had plans for additional attacks." The embassy "was not a target", the official said.

The bombing was by all accounts an unprecedented escalation of hostilities that broke out on October 7, when Iran-backed Islamist militia Hamas invaded Israel, killed 1,200 mostly civilians and took 250 hostages. Israeli intelligence analyst, Ronen Solomon, from Intellitimes, says the target was indeed not diplomatic, but says the property was actually used as an IRGC-HQ to host staff members from the Revolutionary Guards.

Conflict has rippled across the Middle East since the start of the Gaza war. Up until now, Tehran has cautiously steered clear of direct confrontation with Israel while supporting allies engaged in attacks on Israeli and US targets.

Khamenei’s threat was echoed by senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi. He called the attack a “flagrant violation of international regulations,” vowing that it “will not go unanswered.” And Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf talked of “severe punishment.”

Khamenei's political advisor Ali Shamkhani, in a post on X, said the United States "remains directly responsible whether or not it was aware of the intention to carry out this attack". According to Axios, the US has told Iran that it "had no involvement" or advanced knowledge of the strike on the diplomatic compound.

On Monday night, Raisi presided over the meeting of the Supreme National Security Council. According to a statement by the council, “appropriate decisions were made” regarding the deadly attack. 

A large number of hardliners are calling for attacks on its embassies. Just last year, an Iran-backed plot to attack the Israeli embassy in Baku was foiled in a joint effort by Israeli and Azeri security.

Iranian officials frequently issue belligerent rhetoric, and chants of "Death to Israel" remain a common feature of state-sponsored events. According to Khamenei’s prophecy, Israel has 17 years left until its downfall.

However, the latest saber-rattling by Khamenei serves as a go-ahead for a direct attack on Israeli targets, exposing decades of animosity that had largely remained in the shadows.

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