Iran vows revenge as it accuses Israel of deadly airstrike on Syria consulate in deepening Middle East crisis

Iran vows revenge as it accuses Israel of deadly airstrike on Syria consulate in deepening Middle East crisis post thumbnail image
CNN  — 

Iran has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy complicated in Syria on Monday, in a lethal escalation of regional tensions over the struggle in Gaza that after once more appeared to increase the chance of a wider Center Japanese battle.

The airstrike destroyed the consulate constructing within the capital Damascus, killing at the very least seven officers together with Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a high commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, in keeping with Iran’s International Ministry.

Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC’s floor forces, air drive, and the deputy commander of its operations, is probably the most high-profile Iranian goal killed since then-US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.

Iran and Syria accused Israel of authoring the assault, with Tehran warning of a “critical response,” and the highly effective Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah saying the strike will probably be met with “punishment and revenge.” Iran additionally mentioned it might maintain the US “answerable” as a result of its assist of Israel.

The Israeli army advised CNN it doesn’t touch upon international studies. Nonetheless, a army spokesperson mentioned Israel believes the goal struck was a “army constructing of Quds forces” — a unit of the IRGC answerable for international operations.

“Based on our intelligence, that is no consulate and that is no embassy,” Israel Protection Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari advised CNN. “I repeat, that is no consulate and that is no embassy. It is a army constructing of Quds forces disguised as a civilian constructing in Damascus.”

4 unnamed Israeli officers acknowledged that Israel carried out the assault, the New York Occasions reported.

CNN can not confirm the Occasions’ report, nor independently confirm the claims from Iran, Syria and Israel.

Important assault

Israel has intensified its army marketing campaign towards Iran and its regional proxies following the October 7 assault on Israel by Tehran-backed Palestinian group Hamas, which killed about 1,200 folks and noticed greater than 200 taken hostage.

Israel’s subsequent struggle in Gaza has killed greater than 32,800 folks, in keeping with the Ministry of Well being within the besieged enclave, wrought widespread destruction and introduced greater than 1 million folks to the brink of a man-made famine.

Whereas Israel has lengthy focused Iran and its proxies in Syria, its newest obvious assault in Damascus is a major escalation as a result of each the placement and the goal. The consulate constructing, which incorporates the ambassador’s residence and is positioned subsequent to the Iranian Embassy, is taken into account sovereign Iranian territory.

“That is maybe the primary time that the Zionist regime permits itself to assault an official constructing of the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy, which had the flag of the Islamic Republic raised on high of it,” mentioned Iran’s ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari.

Iranian International Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani warned that Tehran “preserves the precise to take reciprocal measures and can resolve the kind of response and punishment towards the aggressor.”

And the nation’s International Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian known as the assault a “violation of all worldwide obligations and conventions” that demanded a “critical response” from the worldwide neighborhood.

Amir-Abdollahian additionally held the US accountable given its assist for Israel, underscoring the rising pressure between Tehran and Washington.

“The US ought to be answerable,” Iran’s high diplomat mentioned in a submit on X.

Tehran summoned the Swiss chargé d’affaires within the early hours of Tuesday native time to debate the incident, Amir-Abdollahian added. Switzerland represents US pursuits in Iran.

“The scale of the Israeli regime’s terrorist assault and crime had been defined, and the American administration’s accountability underlined,” Amir-Abdollahian mentioned.

Syrian International Minister Faisal Mekdad in the meantime described the strike as a “gross violation of worldwide laws, particularly the 1961 Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Relations.”

Braced for escalation

Analysts say one of the quick fallouts of the consulate strike may very well be an increase in assaults by Iran’s proxies, notably towards US troops.

“We may even see a rise or a resumption of assaults by Iraqi militias and Syrian militias towards US troops. And that may imply that the Israeli assault on Iran truly places a goal on the backs of American troops within the Center East,” Trita Parsi, govt vp on the Quincy Institute for Accountable Statecraft, advised CNN.

Because the outbreak of struggle in Gaza, Iran’s proxies have launched assaults on Israel and its allies, whereas demanding a ceasefire within the Palestinian enclave.

Iran-backed forces in Iraq and Syria have launched dozens of assaults geared toward US army positions in these international locations — in January, three US troops had been killed in a drone assault on a US outpost in Jordan, close to the border with Syria.

In retaliation, the US carried out strikes on dozens of Iran-backed targets in Iraq and Syria.

In the meantime, Houthi rebels have launched a collection of assaults on business ships and Western army vessels within the Purple Sea, a serious artery for worldwide commerce.

“It’s very clear that these escalations by the Iraqi militias who’re supported by Iran, little doubt, are coming as a response to what’s occurring in Gaza,” Parsi mentioned.

Growing strain

Because the Center East braces for a possible Iranian response, Tehran is beneath strain to point out energy within the wake of the consulate assault whereas not drawing the area right into a wider struggle.

Iran’s strongest paramilitary ally, Hezbollah may very well be the most certainly software.

The Lebanese Shia militant group has been embroiled in every day crossfire with Israeli forces for practically six months. It has walked a nice line between attempting to restrict its subject of militant operations to the border space, whereas attempting to implement tit-for-tat guidelines of engagement.

Its involvement has additionally elevated fears that Israel’s struggle in Gaza might spill over right into a wider regional battle.

Hezbollah on Tuesday warned that Israel would pay for the consulate assault and hailed Zahedi and others killed as “nice martyrs.”

In an announcement, the group mentioned the assassination wouldn’t cease the “roaring tide of individuals’s resistance” and that the enemy would face “punishment and revenge.”

In Israel, Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu can also be dealing with vital strain domestically to safe the discharge of all of the hostages taken captive through the October 7 terror assault.

1000’s of individuals took to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over the weekend within the largest protests the nation has seen because the begin of the struggle towards Hamas, with banners calling on the prime minister to resign and for Israel to carry new elections.

Nonetheless, Israeli army spokesman Hagari blamed Iran for escalating tensions within the area.

“I’m not going to touch upon that strike however I wish to inform you that within the final six months, Iran is making this area escalate. She’s the primary actor,” he advised CNN.

“[Iran] is the primary actor that makes atrocities on this area utilizing the proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen.”

CNN’s Jim Sciutto and staff, Lauren Kent, Hande Atay Alam, Adam Pourahmadi, Tara John, and Allegra Goodwin contributed reporting.

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