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Iran’s IRGC says Oct. 7 attacks on Israel were revenge for Soleimani; Hamas denies

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The spokesman for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Wednesday that Hamas’ October 7 attacks against Israel were in retaliation for the killing of former Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, a claim that was quickly denied by the Palestinian group.

“Al-Aqsa Flood was one of the acts of revenge for the assassination of General Soleimani by the US and the Zionists,” Iran’s ISNA news agency quoted IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif as telling reporters, using the name Hamas has dubbed its October 7 attacks on Israel.

“Certainly, these acts of revenge will continue in different times and places,” Sharif said.

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Hamas swiftly denied Sharif’s comments, saying all of its actions are “in response to the presence of the occupation and its continued aggression against our people and our sanctities.”

Fars, a news agency close the IRGC, later reported that Sharif’s remarks were misunderstood and quoted him as saying that “Al-Aqsa Flood was an entirely Palestinian operation.”

Sharif’s comments came ahead of the fourth anniversary of Soleimani’s death. He was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq in January 2020.

In this September 18, 2016, file photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, IRGC General Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Handout via AP)
In this September 18, 2016, file photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, IRGC General Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Handout via AP)

Soleimani, who for over two decades headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of the IRGC, was widely regarded as the most powerful figure in the Islamic Republic after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Tehran has consistently pledged to avenge his death.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which governs Gaza, in retaliation for its October 7 attacks. Israeli officials say the attacks killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and around 240 people were taken hostage.

Israel’s air and ground campaign has killed more than 20,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities in the Palestinian territory.

Iran, a key source of financial and military support for Hamas, praised the October 7 attacks while denying any involvement in their planning or execution.

Top commander killed in Syria

The IRGC said in a statement on Monday that one of its top commanders in Syria, Brig. Gen. Seyed Razi Mousavi, was killed in an Israeli “missile attack.” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi issued a message the same day, warning that Israel “will certainly pay for this crime.”

Sharif on Wednesday vowed a “harsh revenge” against Israel for the killing of Mousavi.

Asked whether Iran will retaliate directly or through the “Axis of Resistance” – a network of regional militant groups supported by Tehran – Sharif said: “A combination of the two will certainly be carried out.”

He argued that Israel targeted Mousavi due to the “irreparable defeats” it suffered following the October 7 attacks. “[Israel killed Mousavi] in order to get rid of the pressure of the relentless attacks of the resistance front in Gaza.”

This undated handout picture released by Iran’s Tasnim news agency on December 25, 2023 shows senior IRGC commander Razi Mousavi sitting in an undisclosed location alongside the former commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani. (AFP)
This undated handout picture released by Iran’s Tasnim news agency on December 25, 2023 shows senior IRGC commander Razi Mousavi sitting in an undisclosed location alongside the former commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani. (AFP)

Israel’s military chief, asked on Tuesday about Mousavi’s death, declined to comment but said Israeli forces work throughout the region.

Mousavi was in charge of providing “logistical support to the Axis of Resistance in Syria,” the IRGC statement said, adding that he was a “companion” of Soleimani.

Iranian state news agency IRNA described Mousavi as one of the Quds Force’s most experienced advisors. It said he was killed in an Israeli attack in Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus.

In recent years, Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes against both Iranian-backed groups and Syrian military forces inside Syria.

Iran, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, has played a key role in the Syrian conflict since its beginning in 2011, dispatching thousands of Iranian and foreign fighters to back the Syrian regime.

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