Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have reported the deaths of seven officers in an alleged Israeli strike targeting the Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria’s capital. Among the casualties were Brig-Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the elite Quds Force, and his deputy, Brig-Gen Mohammad Hadi Haji-Rahimi. Both Iran and Syria have condemned the attack, which destroyed a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy. The Israeli military refrained from commenting on foreign media reports, although it has acknowledged conducting numerous strikes in Syria over recent years, targeting entities linked to Iran and allied armed groups backed by the Revolutionary Guards.

The frequency of Israeli strikes in Syria has reportedly increased since the onset of the Gaza conflict in October of the previous year, prompted by cross-border attacks on northern Israel by Hezbollah and other Iran-affiliated groups in Lebanon and Syria. However, Monday’s attack represents a notable escalation, signaling Israel’s determination to intensify pressure on its adversaries and assess the response of Iran and its allies.

The Syrian defense ministry stated that Israeli aircraft targeted the Iranian consulate building in the western Mezzeh district of Damascus. Syrian air defenses intercepted some missiles but failed to prevent others from striking the building, resulting in its complete destruction and casualties among its occupants. The exact number of casualties remains unspecified, but efforts are underway to recover bodies and assist the wounded trapped under the rubble.

The Iranian ambassador to Syria reported that Israeli F-35 fighter jets targeted his residence and the consular section of the embassy, resulting in the deaths of several individuals, including diplomats. Subsequently, the Revolutionary Guards confirmed the deaths of seven officers, including high-ranking commanders Zahedi and Haji-Rahimi. Zahedi, known for his significant role in the Quds Force’s overseas operations, is one of the most prominent Iranian figures believed to have been killed in Israel’s targeted operations.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad strongly condemned the attack as a “heinous terrorist act,” while Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian characterized it as a violation of international obligations, holding the Zionist regime accountable for its consequences. Amid escalating tensions, the White House confirmed President Joe Biden’s awareness of the reports.

In a separate incident, an apparent drone attack on an Israeli naval base in Eilat was attributed to Iran by IDF spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari. This incident followed suspected Israeli strikes in Damascus and Aleppo, which resulted in numerous casualties, including Syrian soldiers and members of Hezbollah. Israel’s military operations in Syria aim to counter what it perceives as Iran’s military presence and the shipment of weapons to designated terrorist groups. While Iran maintains its Guards’ advisory role in Syria’s civil war, it denies engaging in combat or establishing bases in the country.

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