The Israeli raid on Damascus, an ‘unprecedented’ escalation of tensions

Among the victims of Monday's air strike in Damascus against the Iranian consulate was Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a high-ranking member of the Revolutionary Guards, his deputy Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers. While Iran has blamed Israel for the attack and vowed to retaliate, some analysts suspect that Iran remains unwilling to provoke a full-scale war.

Iran has vowed to avenge the deaths of several high-ranking officers of the Quds Force, the elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who were killed in an air strike that hit the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital on Monday.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, the first on an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria. But the New York Times reported on Tuesday that Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel had carried out the strike.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that 16 people were killed in the attack, including two civilians – a woman and her son – along with eight Iranians, five Syrians and one member of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, all of them fighters.

A loss ‘comparable to that of Qassem Soleimani’

Israel has repeatedly targeted Iranian interests in Syria in the past. The most high-profile victim at the Damascus consulate was General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a veteran of the IRGC and a leading Iranian military adviser in Syria.

"This is the most important Iranian official killed since the war triggered by the Hamas attacks on Israeli soil on October 7," notes Ahron Bregman, a political scientist and specialist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at King's College London.

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