Friday, May 24, 2024

Iran warns air strike on Syria will not go unanswered

(BBC News) Iran’s president said an air strike on the Syrian capital that killed five senior members of Iran’s security forces will not go unanswered.

Ebrahim Raisi said Israel was to blame for the attack, which also killed a number of Syrian forces.

Israel has not commented. For years, it has carried out strikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

Such strikes have intensified since the Israel-Gaza war began following Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel.

In a statement posted on the president’s official website, Raisi expressed his condolences to the families of the “high-ranking martyrs.”

He vowed to avenge their deaths, and described the attack as a “cowardly assassination of five of Iran’s most distinguished advisers.”

The statement described the strike as “terrorist and criminal,” and said it “shows the height of [Israel’s] desperation and weakness against the combatants of the resistance front.”

“It will not remain unanswered,” said the statement.

Iran’s foreign ministry said the attacks were an “aggressive and provocative” act by Israel, urging international actors to condemn them.

Senior figures among the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – a major military, political, and economic force in Iran – have been present in Syria since the civil war began there in 2011, helping to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against widespread rebellion to his rule.

Saturday’s attack took place in the Mazzeh neighbourhood, southwest Damascus, an area home to a military airport, as well as the UN headquarters in Damascus, embassies, and restaurants.

Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said the attacks killed the IRGC’s Syria intelligence chief and his deputy, as well as other IRGC members.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based campaign group, said 10 people were killed in the strikes, including leaders of the Revolutionary Guard.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency quoted a military source as saying it had managed to stop some of the missiles, but that the attacks – which it said had hit a residential building – killed and injured some civilians. Buildings were also destroyed, it said.

Last month, a suspected Israeli air strike just outside Damascus killed a senior IRGC commander.

Fears about a wider conflict were further heightened this week, when Iran exchanged strikes with its neighbour Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Iran admitted carrying out a missile and drone attack in southwestern Pakistan, killing two children, saying it was targeting an “Iranian terrorist group” in Pakistan.

Days later, Islamabad hit back, launching strikes it said were targeting “terrorist hideouts” in southeastern Iran, killing nine people.

Although both sides insisted they were targeting militant bases in each other’s countries, Iran and Pakistan withdrew their ambassadors from the respective capitals.

But following talks, diplomatic ties were restored.

Iran has hit targets in Pakistan, Syria, and Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey has also bombed Kurdistan, while Jordan has attacked drug smugglers across its border with Syria.

The U.S. is still hitting ISIS in Syria and fighting off drone strikes by Iran’s proxies there and in Iraq.

There is no common policy behind these attacks, other than the well-worn pretext of “acting in national self-defence.


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