Israel accused of strike on Iranian consulate in Syria

2 April 2024, 15:14

Syria Israel
Syria Israel. Picture: PA

Seven people were killed in the strike including two Iranian generals.

Iran and one of its key proxies vowed to respond to a strike, widely attributed to Israel, that demolished Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus and killed eight people, including two Iranian generals.

Iran’s state TV reported that the country’s Supreme National Security Council, a key decision-making body, met late on Monday and decided on a “required” response to the strike.

The report said the meeting was chaired by President Ebrahim Raisi, but provided no further details.

APTOPIX Syria Israel
Emergency services work at the demolished Iranian consulate in Damascus (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran, said: “We will make them regretful about the crime and similar acts.”

Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza, and along its border with Lebanon.

Monday’s strike in Damascus signalled an escalation because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

The US National Security Council said the United States played no role in the strike in Damascus and did not know of it ahead of time.

Americans directly advised Iran of that, a US official said.

It was not clear if Iran would respond itself, risking a dangerous confrontation with Israel and its ally the United States, or if it would continue to rely on proxies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The airstrike in Syria killed General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016, according to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Syria Israel
Israel, which rarely acknowledges strikes against Iranian targets, said it had no comment on the latest attack in Syria(AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)

It also killed General Zahedi’s deputy, General Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers.

Hezbollah said that Gen Zahedi played a crucial role in helping “develop and advance the work” of the group in Lebanon.

A Hezbollah member was also killed, bringing the overall death toll to eight. Hezbollah announced the death of Hussein Youssef on Tuesday, but did not provide further details.

“This crime will certainly not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

Israel Lebanon Northern Evacuees
There have been cross-border exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel almost daily. Hezbollah is one of the proxy groups supported by Iran (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, after visiting the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, said rescue workers are still searching for bodies under the rubble.

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza nearly six months ago, those proxies have stepped up attacks, leading to near-daily cross-border exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel, and frequent Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping.

Hamas, which rules Gaza and attacked Israel on October 7, is also backed by Iran.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges strikes against Iranian targets, said it had no comment on the latest attack in Syria, although a military spokesman blamed Iran for a drone attack against a naval base in southern Israel on Monday.

Israel has grown increasingly impatient with the daily exchanges of fire with Hezbollah, which have escalated in recent days, and warned of the possibility of a full-fledged war.

Iran Palestinians Israel
Iranian protesters burn representations of the US and Israeli flags. It comes as IRNA said Iran holds the United States, Israel’s closest ally, responsible for the strike (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Houthi rebels have also been launching long-range missiles toward Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the country is in a war on multiple fronts “both offensively and defensively”.

“We see evidence of this every day, including over the last few days,” said Mr Gallant, speaking to the Israeli parliament’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We operate everywhere, every day, in order to prevent our enemies from gaining strength and in order to make it clear to anyone who acts against us — all over the Middle East — that the price for action against Israel will be a heavy one.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar condemned the strike on the Iranian consulate amid fears of a widening regional conflict.

The 22-state Arab League alleged that Israel aims to “expand the war and push the region to chaos”.

Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, said that Iran relayed an important message to the United States on Monday and that it called for a meeting of the UN Security Council.

The message to Washington was delivered through a Swiss envoy in Tehran; Switzerland looks after US interests in Iran.

IRNA said Iran holds the United States, Israel’s closest ally, responsible for the strike.

By Press Association

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