Iran claims that Israel killed a key commander when it targeted its embassy in Syria

Iran claims that Israel killed a key commander when it targeted its embassy in Syria
Smoke rises after what the Iranian media said was an Israeli strike on a building close to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2024. REUTERS/Firas Makdesi

A stunning apparent escalation of conflict in the Middle East that would put Israel against Iran and its supporters occurred on Monday when the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus was destroyed in what Syrian and Iranian media characterized as an Israeli air assault.

Speaking to Reuters, a Lebanese security source reported that Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was one of the deceased. Iranian diplomats have reportedly been killed, according to Iranian state television.

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When Reuters reporters arrived on the scene in the Mezzeh neighborhood of the Syrian capital, they observed emergency vehicles parked outside and smoke billowing from the debris of a structure that had been completely destroyed. In front of the rubble, an Iranian flag was flying from a pole. The foreign and interior ministers of Syria were observed at the location.

As is customary, Israel refuses to comment on the incident. During the six-month conflict in Gaza, Israel has struck Iranian targets multiple times. The Israeli military issued the following statement: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, the Israeli strike claimed the lives of five people. Unspecified numbers of fatalities and injuries were reported by Syria’s official news agency, SANA.

Following the October 7 attack on Israel by the Iranian-backed Palestinian organization Hamas, Israel has increased its airstrikes in Syria targeting the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and Iran’s Guards, both of which defend President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

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(This report has been updated to clarify that the foreign and interior ministries of Syria, not the foreign ministers of Iran and Syria, were seen at the site.) 3)

Reuters reported; Peter Graff wrote; Kevin Liffey edited

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