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Iranian Guards commander killed in Israeli strike on consulate in Damascus

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Israeli warplanes struck the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday, and a Lebanese security source told Reuters a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, had been killed in the attack.

An Iranian flag hangs as smoke rises after what the Iranian media said was an Israeli strike on a building close to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, April 1, 2024. Reuters/Firas Makdesi

Israeli warplanes struck the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday, and a Lebanese security source told Reuters a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, had been killed in the attack.

Reuters reporters at the scene in the Mezzeh district of the Syrian capital saw smoke rising from rubble of a building that had been flattened, and emergency vehicles parked outside.

An Israeli military spokesperson said: "We do not comment on reports in the foreign media."

Syrian state television confirmed the consulate building had been attacked. Earlier, Iranian media reported that a building close to the embassy had been hit, and Iran's student news agency reported that the target was the consulate and ambassador's residence.

Since the Iranian-backed Palestinian faction Hamas's attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Israel has ramped up airstrikes in Syria against Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia and Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), both of which support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

For over 15 years, thousands of Iranian advisors have been present in Syria, providing support to the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

This long-term involvement reflects Iran's strategic interests in the region and its commitment to bolstering the Assad government amidst the complex and multifaceted Syrian conflict.

Iran's support has taken various forms, including military advice, logistical assistance, and the mobilization of proxy forces, highlighting the depth of Tehran's engagement in Syrian affairs.

Iran's role in Syria is part of a broader regional strategy to expand its influence across the Middle East, leveraging alliances with Shia militias and sympathetic governments.

The partnership between Tehran and Damascus has drawn international scrutiny, with critics pointing to Iran's support as a stabilizing factor that has helped the Assad regime maintain its grip on power despite widespread opposition and conflict.

Writing by Peter Graff and Mena Today in Beirut 

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