Iran vows revenge as Israeli missile strike on Damascus kills Revolutionary Guard members

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least six dead as Iran’s president vows to respond to attack

An Israeli strike on the Syrian capital Damascus has destroyed a building used by the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, killing at least five Iranians.

Iranian state television said four advisers from the Revolutionary Guard, who were not named, had been killed in the strike, adding that Israel was behind the strike. It later said a fifth member of the guard wounded in the incident had died.

Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, has been reported by state media as condemning Israel’s action and vowing to respond to “the crimes of the Zionist regime”.

Nour News, which is believed to be close to the country’s intelligence apparatus, identified two of the dead as Gen Sadegh Omidzadeh, the intelligence deputy of the guard’s expeditionary Quds Force in Syria, and his deputy, who goes by the nom de guerre Hajj Gholam.


An opposition war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said at least six people – five Iranians and a Syrian – were killed in the missile attack that struck while officials from Iran-backed groups were holding a meeting.

The observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said three of the Iranians were commanders, adding that four other people are still missing under the rubble.

Syrian state TV reported that the “Israeli aggression” targeted a residential building in the tightly guarded western Damascus area of Mazzeh, home to several diplomatic missions. Saturday’s strike was close to the embassies of Venezuela and South Africa.

An official said that the building was used by Revolutionary Guard officials, adding that the “Israeli missiles” destroyed the whole building and that 10 people were either killed or wounded in the attack.

The Israeli military did not comment on the strike which intensifies an already volatile mix of tensions in the region. Iranian state media reported that Mr Raisi condemned Israel’s strikes on Syria, saying, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not leave the crimes of the Zionist regime unanswered.”

Iran – a long-standing adversary of Israel – supports militias around the Middle East. That includes Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that attacked Israel on October 7th; Hizbullah in Lebanon, which has been trading fire with Israel; and the Houthis in Yemen, who have been firing missiles at ships in the Red Sea to protest Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Israel and Iran have been locked in a shadow war for years, long before the latest war in Gaza began. But so far, Iran has appeared to stop short of a major escalation. In the past, Iran has often lashed out at its enemies through its proxies, relying on the armed groups and sometimes disavowing any involvement in attacks.

Security forces deployed around the destroyed four-storey building in Damascus as ambulances and fire engines were seen in the area. A search for people trapped under the rubble is under way. Windows were also shattered in nearby buildings.

A grocer near the scene of the strike said he heard five consecutive explosions at about 9.15am on Saturday, adding that he later witnessed the bodies of a man and a woman being taken away as well as three injured people.

The strike came amid widening tensions in the region as Israel pushes ahead with its offensive in Gaza. The war has stoked tensions across the region, threatening to ignite other conflicts.

Last month, an Israeli air strike on a suburb of Damascus killed Iranian general Seyed Razi Mousavi, an adviser of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Syria. Israel has also targeted Palestinian and Lebanese operatives in Syria over the past years.

Iranian and Syrian officials have long acknowledged Iran has advisers and military experts in Syria, but denied there were any ground troops. Thousands of fighters from Iran-backed groups took part in Syria’s conflict that started in March 2011, helping tip the balance of power in favour of President Bashar Assad.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years.

Such actions in Syria are rarely acknowledged by Israel, but it has said that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hizbullah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian president Bashar Assad’s forces.

Earlier this month, a strike said to be carried out by Israel killed top Hamas commander Saleh Arouri in Beirut.

Over the past weeks, rockets have been fired from Syria into northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, adding to tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border and attacks on ships in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

A few hours after the strike in Damascus, an Israeli drone strike on a car near the Lebanese southern port city of Tyre killed two people, the state-run National News Agency reported.

It was not immediately clear who the target was but such strikes in the past have killed officials from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizbullah group as well as the Palestinian Hamas group. - AP