The chief commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami

Israel 'Will Pay' for Killing of IRGC Officer in Syria, Commander Warns

Wednesday, 06/05/2024

The IRGC Commander-in-Chief has warned that Israel will "pay the price" for an airstrike in Syria that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer Saeid Abiar early Monday.

Hossein Salami in a condolence message for the killing of Abiar, said that Israel should “expect a response” for the attack which SANA, Syria's news agency, said killed several 'martyrs' in the attack overnight Monday along with causing 'material damage'.

Israel usually does not comment on attacks in Syria but it has been accused of striking Iranian military targets in Syria since 2011. Iran's presence in Syria grew in the wake of the civil war in a bid to keep President Bashar Assad in power, using Syria as a base to coordinate its proxies in the region and transfer weapons to the likes of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Britain-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights reported that the casualties included members of Lebanon's Hezbollah, a copper factory and a weapons warehouse, the intended targets of the strike. 

On Tuesday, Salami attended a funeral service for Abiar, who was a senior member of the IRGC's Quds Force and had been stationed in Syria since 2012, believed to be an advisor coordinating Iran's proxy activities.

It is the second such strike within a week and a continuation of escalating tensions between Iran and its archenemy, Israel. In April, an alleged Israeli airstrike killed two IRGC generals and multiple senior officials at the Iranian consulate in Damascus. It was followed by the first ever direct attack from Iran towards Israel on April 13, involving 350 missiles and drones, mostly intercepted by Israel and a US-led coalition.

A period of relative calm prevailed since mid-April, but apparently Israel resumed strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

Iranian military commanders and officials often issue threats against Israel and it is not clear if Salami's threat means an imminent retaliation against Israel.

Iran has deployed thousands of Afghan militia and fighters from Iraq and elsewhere to fight against government opponents and take position near the Israeli border. The Israeli attacks have aimed to destroy Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese Hezbollah and stop Iran's entrenchment in Syria.

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