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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

Israeli airstrike destroys consular section of Iran embassy killing military adviser General Ali Reza Zahdi

Iranian ambassador Hossein Akbari condemned Israel and said as many as seven people were killed, but first responders were still searching for any other bodies under the rubble. He said two police officers who guard the building were wounded

AP/PTI, Reuters Damascus Published 02.04.24, 07:00 AM
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An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said on Monday.

The Iranian Arabic-language state television Al-Alam and pan-Arab television station Al-Mayadeen, which has reporters in Syria, said the strike killed Iranian military adviser General Ali Reza Zahdi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016.

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Iranian ambassador Hossein Akbari condemned Israel and said as many as seven people were killed, but first responders were still searching for any other bodies under the rubble. He said two police officers who guard the building were wounded.

In comments to the media after meeting Akbari, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said “several” people were killed. Mekdad in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, condemned Israel over the attack. Iranian state television said the Iranian ambassador’s residence was in the consular building, which stood next to the embassy.

State news agency Sana, citing an unnamed military source, said the building in the tightly guarded neighbourhood of Mazzeh was levelled.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years.

Such airstrikes have escalated in recent months against the backdrop of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and clashes between Israel’s military and Hezbollah on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Though it rarely acknowledges its actions in Syria, Israel has said it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Assad’s forces.

Terror tip-off

Iran tipped off Russia about the possibility of a major “terrorist operation” on its soil ahead of the concert hall massacre near Moscow last month, sources said.

In the deadliest attack inside Russia in 20 years, gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at concertgoers on March 22 at the Crocus City Hall, killing at least 144 people.

The US had also warned Russia in advance of a likely militant Islamist attack but Moscow, deeply distrustful of Washington’s intentions, played down that intelligence.

It is harder, however, for Russia to dismiss intelligence from diplomatic ally Iran on the attack, which has also raised questions over the effectiveness of Russian security services. Moscow and Tehran have deepened military and other cooperation during the two-year Ukraine war.

“Days before the attack in Russia, Tehran shared information with Moscow about a possible big terrorist attack inside Russia that was acquired during interrogations of those arrested in connection with deadly bombings in Iran,” one of the sources told Reuters.

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