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Israel hits Syria’s Iran embassy, Guards commander dead

A suspected Israeli air strike has levelled an Iranian consulate building in Damascus killing at least six people.

Apr 02, 2024, updated Apr 02, 2024
An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran's embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said Monday. Photo: AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki

An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran's embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said Monday. Photo: AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki

Suspected Israeli warplanes have bombed Iran’s embassy in Syria, a marked escalation in a war pitting Israel against its regional adversaries, and Tehran says the strike killed seven military advisers including three senior commanders.

Reuters reporters at the site in the Mezzeh district of Damascus saw emergency workers clambering atop rubble of a destroyed building inside the diplomatic compound, adjacent to the main embassy building. Emergency vehicles were parked outside. An Iranian flag hung from a pole by the debris.

The Syrian foreign minister and interior minister were both spotted at the scene.

“We strongly condemn this atrocious terrorist attack that targeted the Iranian consulate building in Damascus and killed a number of innocents,” Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said.

Israel has long targeted Iranian military installations and those of its proxies in Syria, and has ramped up those strikes in parallel with its campaign against Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Monday’s attack was the first time the vast embassy compound itself had been hit.

Israel typically does not comment about attacks by its forces on Syria. Asked about the strike, an Israeli military spokesperson said: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media”.

The Iranian ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, who was not injured, said at least five people had been killed in the attack and that Tehran’s response would be “harsh”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement that seven military advisers died in the strike including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force, an overseas arm of the corps.

Iranian state media said Tehran believed Zahedi was the target of the attack. His deputy and another senior commander were also killed along with four others.

Iran’s Arabic Language Al Alam Television said Zahedi was a military adviser in Syria who served as the head of the Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016.

Citing a military source, Syrian state media said Israel launched an attack from the occupied Golan Heights onto the Iranian embassy, and that Syria shot down some missiles with its air defence system.

The Iranian ambassador said the strike hit a consular building within the embassy compound and his residence was on the top two floors.

The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at a regular news briefing that the United States remained “concerned about anything that would be escalatory or cause an increase in conflict in the region.”

Miller said he did not expect it to impact talks on freeing Israeli hostages held by Iran-backed Hamas.

Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, which precipitated the war in Gaza, Israel has escalated airstrikes in Syria against both Iran’s Guards and the Tehran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, both of which support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Friday, Israel carried out its deadliest strikes in months on northern Syria’s Aleppo province and killed a senior Hezbollah fighter in Lebanon. It has also regularly struck the airports in Aleppo and Damascus in an attempt to halt Iran’s weapons transfers to its proxies.

The Israeli military said on Monday it had stopped advanced weapons, including shrapnel charges and anti-tank mines, from being smuggled into the West Bank from Iran.

AAP with AP

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