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Commander in Iran’s IRGC killed in suspected Israeli strike in Damascus

Israel is widely suspected of striking Iranian military targets throughout Syria.
The site of the strike in Damascus.

A commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on Monday, marking another escalation in the Israel-Iran regional conflict amid the Gaza war.

Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander in the IRGC’s Quds Force, was killed in an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency reported. The building is located next to the Iranian Embassy in the capital city, according to the outlet.

Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that an Israeli strike hit the Iranian consulate at around 5:00 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. ET) in the Mezzeh district of the city. The strike caused extensive damage to the consulate and surrounding buildings, according to the outlet.

Iranian state media reported that Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, another high-ranking IRGC officer, and five other members of the corps were killed in the strike. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that eight people were killed.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment. However, later on Monday four Israeli officials confirmed to The New York Times that Israel was responsible.

Why it matters: Israel is suspected of carrying out regular airstrikes on Iranian and affiliated military targets in Syria, though the Israeli military rarely comments on its activities abroad. The strikes have continued since the start of the Gaza war in October and the ensuing wider regional conflict.

On Friday, SOHR reported that more than 40 people were killed in an alleged Israeli strike on a Hezbollah weapons warehouse near the Aleppo International Airport.

Zahedi, reported to be the Quds Force commander responsible for Lebanon and Syria, is not the first high-ranking IRGC official to be allegedly killed by Israel. In December, senior IRGC commander Sayyed Razi Mousavi was killed outside Damascus in a missile strike widely attributed to Israel.

This developing story has been updated since initial publication.