This is known about the bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria – DW – 04/02/2024

What exactly happened in Damascus?

On Monday (04/01/2024), an explosion occurred in a building on Fayez Mansour Street, west of Damascus. The consular building of the Iranian Embassy in the Syrian capital was completely destroyed, and 13 people were killed in the bombing.

Among the fatalities were two senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: Mohammed-Resa Sahedi, commander of the Al-Quds brigades, as well as its acting commander, Mohammed Hadi Hadschi Rahimi. Above all, Sahedi is believed to have maintained close relations with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

The building houses the residential rooms of Iranian Ambassador Hossein Akbari. But, since at the time of the attack, he was in the attached main building, he survived the explosion.

According to Akbari, six missiles, launched from F-35 fighter planes, hit the consulate. Syria’s Defense Minister claims that Israel carried out the attack from the Golan Heights.

Who are the Al-Quds brigades?

The bombing is a strong blow for Iran. The Al-Quds brigades are the elite units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps specialized in foreign operations. Officially they are made up of about 5,000 fighters and are under the direct command of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and the conquest of this holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims is one of the brigades’ long-term goals.

These cooperate with other anti-Israel and Islamist organizations, such as the Palestinian Hamas or the Lebanese Hezbollah. In the United States, the brigades are classified as terrorist organizations, in the European Union they are not yet on the list of terrorist organizations.

Parade of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, on the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, in Tehran. Image: Vahid Salemi/dpa/picture alliance

How do Syria and Iran react?

Both Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hold Israel responsible for the attack and promise revenge for the “cowardly crime.” Hezbollah, in Syria, also assured that there will be a response to the bombings.

Likewise, several Arab countries, as well as Russia and China, condemned the attack and emphasized that the security of diplomatic institutions should not be violated. Additionally, at Russia’s request, a public session on the bombing will be held next Tuesday at the UN Security Council.

Why are Israel’s attacks in Syria increasing?

Generally, the Israeli Army does not comment on attacks in Syria, and on this occasion it has not commented on the explosion in Damascus either.

However, the Israeli Air Force regularly bombs targets in Syria and Lebanon to contain Tehran’s growing military influence in the region.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, about half a year ago, the frequency of these attacks has increased. Just last Sunday, the Israeli Army launched four missiles at a military research facility near Damascus.

And, just two days earlier, more than 50 people were killed in bombings in Aleppo province. The victims are allegedly mainly members of the Syrian Army and Hezbollah militias.

In the past, Israel and its allies have also deliberately assassinated senior leaders of the Al-Quds brigades. The most recent bombing is especially relevant because it targeted an Iranian Embassy building and thus took place on Iranian territory.

How big is the danger of an escalation?

Beyond the reactions from Tehran, voices are increasing that do not rule out a military response, as the Iranian Ambassador to the UN wrote in a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Hamidreda Azizi of the Science and Policy Foundation (SWP) in Berlin speaks of a “new quality” of Israeli attacks against Iranian targets and a “significant increase in tensions” between Israel and Iran .

In a thread on platform

The political scientist fears that Tehran will be forced to give a military response to avoid showing weakness. However, he adds, it is still unclear what dimension that response will have.

(vt/elm)

 
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