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Israeli airstrike kills Top Iranian Commanders in Damascus

January 21, 2024
Israeli airstrike

In a targeted attack on an Iranian military facility in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Saturday, an apparent Israeli airstrike resulted in the death of at least five high-ranking commanders from Tehran’s elite al Quds Forces. The strike, which leveled a residential building, has raised tensions in the region.

The Israeli government has not officially acknowledged responsibility for the attack. Reports suggest that the strike may have been carried out by an Israeli rocket, causing the collapse of the building. Conflicting accounts exist, with some initial speculation suggesting a car bomb as the cause of the explosion.

Rami Abdul Rahman, the director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, expressed his belief that an Israeli missile struck the building. He indicated that the targeted area housed not only Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces but also members of the Islamic Jihad organization and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

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Mehrdad Khonsari, an Iran analyst based in London, highlighted a recent increase in Israeli attacks on Syrian targets, particularly following the October 7 Hamas terror attack in southern Israel. Khonsari suggested a connection between these attacks and alleged plots by Iranian commanders against Israeli targets within Israeli territory.

Arab media further reported that an Israeli drone targeted a vehicle in southern Lebanon carrying two Hezbollah commanders on the same day. The strike resulted in the destruction of the vehicle, with the victims’ charred remains taken to a hospital for identification.

Joshua Landis, head of the Middle East studies program at the University of Oklahoma, asserted that both Israel and Iran may be attempting to draw the United States into a broader regional conflict through their actions. Landis cited the recent killing of a top Iranian al Quds commander by Israel as a pressure point that could force Iran to retaliate.

Landis pointed out that in the past week, Iran responded by sending missiles to Syria, emphasizing the growing pressure on Iran due to numerous Israeli and American attacks on Iranian leaders. He warned that these actions might lead to unpredictable and potentially irrational responses from Iran.

Highlighting recent incidents targeting U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria by pro-Iranian militia fighters, Landis suggested that Iran is actively seeking to involve the U.S. in a wider regional conflict. He mentioned Iran’s use of Yemen’s Houthi rebels to target U.S. ships in the Red Sea, stating that the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has urged the Houthis to escalate their attacks against U.S. vessels in strategic waterways.

The situation remains volatile, with concerns growing over the potential escalation of hostilities in the region. The international community watches closely as geopolitical tensions continue to mount.

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