Israeli air strike partially destroys Iranian consulate in Syria, killing eight

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An Israeli air strike has partially destroyed the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus killing several people including a senior Tehran commander.

The strike will increase tensions in the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. Iran is a backer of Hamas which has governed Gaza and Hezbollah which has been attacking Israeli positions from Lebanon.

Eight people are said to have died in the Damascus attack.

On Monday, Iranian state media killed said a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was among the dead.

“Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the senior commanders of the IRGC’s Quds Force, was martyred in an attack by Zionist regime fighters on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s consulate building in Damascus,” state TV reported.

The Quds Force is the foreign operations arm of the Guards.

Israel hit an Iranian consulate annex in Damascus, it’s been claimed. There was no immediate comment from Tel Aviv.

It was the fifth strike in eight days to hit Syria, whose President Bashar al-Assad is widely supported by Iran and its allies.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said “the Israeli attack targeted the Iranian consulate building in the Mazzeh neighbourhood of Damascus”.

AFP correspondents at the scene confirmed the building next to the embassy, an annex, had been levelled, in an upscale neighbourhood of Damascus.

Images showed a pile of rubble about two stories high beside a fenced compound.

Iranian media also reported that the strikes in Damascus completely destroyed the annex building, and that the ambassador was unharmed.

“Hossein Akbari, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Damascus, and his family were not harmed in the Israeli attack,” Iran’s Nour news agency said.

Britain-based group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: “Israeli missiles … destroyed the building of an annex to the Iranian embassy … in Damascus, killing six people”, in an initial toll it quickly raised to eight.

Syria’s defence ministry said there were many “wounded, killed” in an Israeli strike, and the Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad denounced the attack after visiting the site.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack that targeted the Iranian consulate building in Damascus killing a number of innocent people,” Mekdad said in a statement carried by SANA.

SANA earlier reported that “our air defence systems confronted enemy targets in the vicinity of Damascus”.

Israeli strikes on targets in Syria, mostly Syrian army positions as well as Iran-backed combatants including fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, have intensified since October when Israel began fighting Hezbollah-allied Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran, Israel’s arch enemy. Hezbollah and Israeli forces have exchanged near-daily fire along the Lebanese border.

The incident in Damascus came three days after the Observatory reported Israeli strikes that killed 53 people in Syria, including 38 soldiers and seven members of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

It was the highest Syrian army toll in Israeli strikes since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, said the monitor.

“Syria and Lebanon have become one extended battleground from the Israeli perspective,” Riad Kahwaji, head of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told AFP after the Friday strikes.

“Israel warplanes hit targets in both countries almost daily in a sustained effort to destroy Hezbollah military infrastructure and to also tarnish the group’s image,” he said.

“Israeli strikes have clearly escalated in size and depth” in Lebanon