Iran repatriates bodies of IRGC members killed in Syria consulate attack

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Iran has repatriated the bodies of seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members killed in a strike on the country’s consular annex in Damascus, which Tehran blamed on Israel, local media reported.

The IRGC members, including two generals, were killed in the airstrike on Monday which levelled the Iranian embassy’s consular annex. Analysts saw the move as part of stepped-up Israeli actions against Iranian and pro-Iran commanders in Syria and Lebanon, which they said could spiral into wider war.

“The bodies of the Iran embassy martyrs arrived at Mehrabad airport” in Tehran, the ISNA news agency reported overnight Wednesday-Thursday.

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It broadcast a short video of their coffins being carried by a vehicle.

Iran has said that among the dead were two brigadier generals from the IRGC’s foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, Mohammad-Hadi Haji-Rahimi and Mohammad-Reza Zahedi.

A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Zahedi was the Quds Force commander for Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

His death came nearly six months into Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip against Hamas, the Iran-backed Palestinian movement.

State media said the IRGC members’ funeral will take place on Friday, coinciding with the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day, when Iranians plan to march in support of Palestinians and against Israel.

Iran, Israel’s arch foe, has been a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s 13-year civil war. Tehran says it only has military advisors in the country and denies having sent forces to fight there.

In a statement for Quds Day, Iran’s foreign ministry renewed the “support of the Islamic Republic for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people” against Israel.

The Britain-based Observatory said Tuesday’s strikes killed a total of 16 people, including eight Iranians, five Syrian fighters and one from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. Two civilians also died, it said.

The Damascus strike was the fifth in a week to hit targets in Syria.

Israel declined to comment on the consulate strike, for which Iran has vowed to retaliate.

On Wednesday Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called the strike a “desperate” effort by Israel that “will not save them from defeat in Gaza.”

The Gaza war began with Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel. Iran has denied any direct involvement in that attack.

-With AFP

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