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Top IRGC commander in Syria allegedly killed in airstrike on Iranian consulate in Damascus, Iran vows revenge against Israel

The top Iranian commander, Zahedi, who is now reportedly dead, was responsible for smuggling ammunition and precision weapons into Lebanon.

On Monday (1st April), suspected Israeli warplanes bombed a building adjacent to the embassy of Iran in Syria, leaving seven of Iran’s military advisers, including three senior commanders dead. Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top commander in the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was reportedly killed in the Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

At the time of the strike, Zahedi was meeting with leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing the Iranian press. However, these reports could not be verified immediately.

The top Iranian commander, Zahedi, who is now reportedly dead, commanded the Quds Force’s Unit 18000. Among other things, he was responsible for smuggling ammunition and precision weapons into Lebanon, according to The Jerusalem Post report.

In the past, he had also commanded the IRGC’s Air Force and Imam Hussein Division.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, Zahedi coordinated all Iranian terrorist operations against Israel from Syria, Lebanon, and “the Palestinian sphere.”

His death marked the key assassination of an IRGC leader since the US assassinated Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020.

Israel’s strike on Monday came just hours after a drone launched by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq hit an Israeli Navy station in Eilat, causing damage to a hangar, Times of Israel reported.

The Iranian Embassy in Lebanon expressed anger over the alleged airstrike. It said, “This barbaric Israeli aggression is a flagrant violation of international laws, diplomatic norms, and the requirements of the Vienna Convention, the report said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps later issued a statement confirming the killing of its top military commanders. According to a statement from IRGC,  the Israeli attack left its two senior commanders Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hadi Haj Rahimi dead along with five other officers.

The attack, which rocked the Syrian capital, has left Iran reeling and vowing a robust response.

According to an official statement from the IRGC, the slain commanders were among those who perished in the assault. Haji Rahimi, described as a coordinator for the Quds Force, was identified as the second commander killed in the attack on Iran’s consulate building in Damascus.

The other officials named in the statement include Hossein Aman Elahi, Mehdi Jalalati, Mohsen Sedaghat, Ali Aghababaee, and Ali Salehi Roozbahani.

Iran has pointed fingers at Israel, alleging that the attack was carried out by Israeli forces using F-35 warplanes. Hossein Akbari, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus, condemned the assault as a violation of international laws and vowed that Iran would respond decisively.

“This is perhaps the first time that the Zionist regime allows itself to attack an official building of the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy, which had the flag of the Islamic Republic raised on top of it,” Akbari asserted.

In response to the accusations, Israel has refrained from commenting directly on the Damascus strike. However, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a military spokesperson, disputed Iran’s characterization of the targeted building, claiming it was not a consulate or embassy but rather a military structure of the Quds forces disguised as a civilian facility in Damascus.

As tensions escalate between the two regional adversaries, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, affirmed that Iran reserves the right to retaliate and will determine the nature of its response to the aggression, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, AP has reported that in addition to the Iranian military officials, a Hezbollah terrorist, Hossein Yousef was also killed in the Israeli strike.

A Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has claimed that two Syrians were killed and two police officers guarding the Iranian consulate in Damascus were injured in the attack.

(With inputs from ANI)

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