NewsTensions between Israel and Iran. Strike on consulate kills Al-Quds commander

Tensions between Israel and Iran. Strike on consulate kills Al‑Quds commander

Iranians protest in reaction to the raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Tehran, April 1, 2024.
Iranians protest in reaction to the raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Tehran, April 1, 2024.
Images source: © NurPhoto via Getty Images | Morteza Nikoubazl

6:18 AM EDT, April 3, 2024

The ongoing shadow conflict between Israel and Iran seems to be increasingly shifting into an overt showdown, as reported by the "New York Times" on Tuesday. A strike targeting the Iranian consulate in Syria on Monday resulted in the death of the commander of the elite Iranian Al-Quds unit based in Syria and Lebanon.

The Syrian Ministry of Defense reported on Monday that Israeli armed forces orchestrated a strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on the same day. Syrian state media claims that the incident resulted in at least six fatalities, including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the commander of the prestigious Iranian Al-Quds unit in Syria and Lebanon.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has stated that Tehran retains the right to respond. While no entity has formally accepted responsibility for the strike, Syrian officials have pointed the finger at Israel.

Attacks have been ongoing for years

This incident ranks among the most severe Israeli operations targeting Iran, as remarked by the "New York Times" on Tuesday. The report also highlighted that the strike claimed the lives of at least three high-ranking Iranian commanders and four other officers managing Tehran's covert operations in the Middle East. The paper added that such attacks, primarily aimed at military leaders and nuclear research scientists, have been recurring for years, drawing on victim estimates provided by Iranian and Syrian authorities.

Four Israeli officials, who opted to remain anonymous, disclosed in discussions with the "NYT" that their administration was behind the Damascus shelling but contested the notion that the targeted facility was a diplomatic mission. In stark contrast, the Syrian ambassador to Iran, Szafik Dajub, condemned the act as a "gross and unequivocal violation of all international laws and standards."

On March 26, the Times of Israel, drawing on information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in the United Kingdom, reported that strikes on a military outpost in eastern Syria resulted in the deaths of at least nine fighters affiliated with Iran, including their leader. These strikes also injured more than 20 individuals. Earlier, reports from Syrian state news outlets in late February noted that an Israeli attack on military installations in Damascus, likely utilized by Iranians, had caused at least two deaths.

Israel has been conducting operations against assets in Syria tied to Iran for years. Tehran's influence in Syria has expanded since it began backing the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that erupted in 2011. Iranian officials have occasionally issued threats against the existence of the state of Israel in the past.

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