Iran vows revenge as Israeli airstrike on its Syria consulate kills 11, including 2 generals

Iran’s response to the strike would be at same magnitude and harshness, says envoy

Syrian embassy strike Emergency service workers clear the rubble at a destroyed building struck by Israeli jets in Damascus, Syria | AP

At least 11 people, including two generals of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus in the late hours of Monday. Iranian leaders said the attack was unprecedented and vowed a harsh response.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the elite Quds Force and his deputy Brig-Gen Mohammad Hadi Haji-Rahimi were killed in the attack, BBC reported. The Revolutionary Guards said seven of its officers got killed in the strike. Iran and Syrian governments condemned the attack. The Syrian defence ministry said in a statement that Israeli aircraft targeted the consulate building located in the western Mezzeh district of Damascus. Though its air defences shot down some Israeli missiles, “others made it through and destroyed the entire building, killing and injuring everyone inside”, it said.

While Iran's consular building was levelled in the attack, according to Syria's state news agency, its main embassy building remained intact. Still, the Iranian ambassador's residence was inside the consular building. BBC quoted Hossein Akbari, Iran’s ambassador to Syria as saying, “Israeli F-35 fighter jets brutally targeted my place of residence and the consular section of the embassy, along with Iran's military attaches.”

Though the Israeli military did not acknowledge the attacks, it did say that they have been carrying out hundreds of strikes in recent years on Syrian targets, which it claims are “linked to Iran and allied armed groups which are armed, funded and trained by the Revolutionary Guards”. A military spokesman blamed Iran for a drone attack early Monday against a naval base in southern Israel.

Since the war in Gaza began nearly six months ago, clashes have increased between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon. Hamas, which rules Gaza and attacked Israel on October 7, is also backed by Iran.

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. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have also been launching long-range missiles toward Israel, including on Monday.

A member of Hezbollah, Hussein Youssef, also was killed in the attack, a spokesperson for the militant group told The Associated Press. The spokesperson spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the group's rules; Hezbollah has not publicly announced the death.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said two Syrians were killed in that attack. Two police officers who guarded the consulate were among those wounded, and first responders were still searching for bodies under the rubble.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad--another Palestinian militant group backed by Iran--accused Israel of seeking to widen the conflict in Gaza.

A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called on other countries to condemn the strike.

Israel has carried out scores of Iranian-linked targets in Syria over the years, many of them believed to be aimed at disrupting arms transfers and other cooperation with Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

An Israeli airstrike in a Damascus neighbourhood in December killed a longtime Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Syria, Seyed Razi Mousavi. A similar strike on a building in Damascus in January killed at least five Iranian advisers. Last week, an Iranian adviser was killed in airstrikes over the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, near the Iraqi border.

The chief spokesman for Israel's army, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said a Monday drone attack on a naval base in southern Israel was directed by Iran and caused no injuries. Early on Tuesday, the Israeli military said some kind of weapon fired from Syria toward Israel crashed before reaching its intended target.

-with agency inputs.


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