Iran vows ‘maximum damage’ in response to Israeli strike on Syria consulate

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A senior Iranian military official reiterated on Saturday Iran’s determination to retaliate against a deadly attack attributed to Israel on its consulate in Damascus, saying that Tehran’s response will aim to cause “maximum damage.”

“Certainly, the Zionist regime’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus will not go unanswered, and as [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] said recently, we will make the enemy regret it,” state news agency IRNA quoted Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, as saying.

The airstrike on Monday in the Syrian capital killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two senior commanders, according to the IRGC.

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Bagheri was speaking at the funeral of Mohammad-Reza Zahedi, the most senior casualty from the attack, held in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. Zahedi was responsible for overseeing operations in Lebanon and Syria for the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign operations arm.

Zahedi is the highest-ranking Iranian commander to be killed since the 2020 US killing of Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Iran will determine the timing and nature of the response to Israel, Bagheri said, adding that Tehran’s retaliation will be carried out “at the right time and with maximum damage to the enemy.”

Despite denials from Washington about any involvement in the Damascus attack, Bagheri, like other Iranian officials, pointed the finger at the US.

“Whether America accepts it or not, its involvement in crimes committed by the Zionist regime is clear and responsibility for the recent incident in the Syrian consulate lies with it. The US must be held accountable,” he said.

Israel, known for its frequent airstrikes on Iran-linked targets and Syrian military forces in Syria in recent years, has maintained its customary silence on the attack, refraining from public comment as it typically does regarding its operations in Syria.

However, the New York Times cited four unnamed Israeli officials acknowledging Israel’s responsibility for the attack.

Iran, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, has been actively involved in the Syrian conflict since it broke out in 2011, establishing a military presence in the country in support of the Syrian regime.

The attack in Damascus came amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, with Iran and several Tehran-backed militant groups facing off against Israel and the US on multiple fronts since the outbreak of war between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7.

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