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Iran vows revenge for deadly embassy airstrike blamed on Israel

Rescue workers search the rubble of a building used by the Iranian embassy in Damascus after the airstrike (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers search the rubble of a building used by the Iranian embassy in Damascus after the airstrike (AFP via Getty Images)

Tehran vows to respond after a deadly strike blamed on Israel demolished Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Iran said it will take revenge on Israel for an airstrike that killed two of its generals and five military advisers at its embassy compound in Syria, raising the risk of further escalation in conflict in the Middle East.

The strike marked one of the most significant attacks yet on Iranian interests in Syria, where Israel has stepped up a long-running military campaign against Iran and groups it backs.

The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group – a key ally of both Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government and Iran – also pledged “punishment and revenge” on Israel.

Israel, which has repeatedly targeted Iranian officers at sites in Syria and in Lebanon, has not confirmed it is behind the attack.

But Turkey explicitly blamed Israel and condemned the airstrike, calling it a violation of international law that could lead to a wider conflict in the region.

Iran provides money and weapons to Hezbollah, as well as Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza. Clashes between Israel and Hezbollah along the Israeli-Lebanese border have increased since the war in Gaza began nearly six months ago.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, a key decision-making body, agreed on a “required” response to the strike, Iran’s state television reported.

“We will make them regretful about the crime and similar acts,” said supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in Iran.

The airstrike killed Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who led the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016, his deputy, Gen Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers. A member of Hezbollah, Hussein Youssef, was also killed.

A building used by the Iranian embassy in Damascus, destroyed by an airstrike blamed on Israel (AFP via Getty Images)
A building used by the Iranian embassy in Damascus, destroyed by an airstrike blamed on Israel (AFP via Getty Images)

Since the 7 October outbreak of the war in Gaza, Iran’s proxies have stepped up attacks, with near-daily cross-border exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel, and frequent attacks on Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges strikes against Iranian targets, said it had no comment on the latest attack in Syria, although a military spokesman blamed Iran for a drone attack on a naval base in southern Israel early on Monday.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said the country is in a war on multiple fronts “both offensively and defensively”.

Gulf monarchies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar condemned the strike, and the 22-state Arab League slammed Israel, saying it aims to “expand the war and push the region to chaos”.

Meanwhile, a US defence official said that an attack drone was detected and destroyed by US forces at Al-Tanf Garrison in Syria on Monday afternoon. No injuries or damage to infrastructure were reported.

In the Red Sea, the US Central Command said early on Tuesday that its forces destroyed a Houthi unmanned surface vessel the previous day. CentCom said the vessel posed “a threat to US and coalition forces and merchant vessels in the region”.

Reuters and AP contributed to this report