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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Airstrike in Damascus kills a top Iranian commander, Iranian media say

By Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman

Israeli airstrikes destroyed a building belonging to the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing a senior commander in the Quds Force, the external military and intelligence service of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Iranian state media reported Monday.

Gen. Ali Reza Zahdi, 65, oversaw Iran’s covert military operations in Syria and Lebanon, Iranian officials said. He is among the senior most Iranian commanders believed to have been killed by Israel in a yearslong shadow war that has included assassinations of Iranian military leaders and nuclear scientists in Iran and in Syria.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the strike, but four Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters, acknowledged that Israel had carried out the attack, targeting Zahdi. They did not confirm that he had been killed.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, strongly condemned the attack in a statement and said he had spoken to his Syrian counterpart about the “Zionist regime’s attack on the consulate section of the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Damascus.”

“Netanyahu has lost his mental balance because he has faced back to back defeat in Gaza and has not achieved the Zionists’ ambitious goals,” Amirabdollahian said in the statement.

The strike, an Iranian member of the Revolutionary Guard said, targeted a secret meeting in which Iranian intelligence officials and Palestinian militants gathered to discuss the war in the Gaza Strip. Among the Iranian officials were senior commanders in the Quds Forces and leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group armed and funded by Iran.

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