IRGC intelligence advisor killed by airstrike in Syria

An airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus that is thought to have been carried out by Israel, killed at least five officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Qods Force on Jan. 20. Today’s strike is the second in the past four weeks that targeted and killed IRGC officers in Syia.

The five Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps advisors who were killed in the strike include Qods Force deputy intelligence officer Sadegh Omidzadeh, his deputy, Hajj Gholam, and three other advisors in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, according to The Associated Press.

In early 2023, Omidzadeh was identified by U.S. intelligence as a Qods Force official who was involved with selecting “U.S. Humvee and Cougar armored vehicles in Syria” as targets for a new, small explosively formed penetrator that was developed by both Qods Force and Hezbollah, The Washington Post reported. Omidzadeh “spoke of dispatching unidentified operatives to take reconnaissance photos of roads traveled by U.S. forces.”

Omidzadeh likely was working with Hezbollah’s Golan Unit, which was preparing last year to attack U.S. forces in Syria. The U.S. has an estimated 900 troops in Syria which are battling the Islamic State. The “Golan Unit” is headed by Musa Ali Daqduq, a U.S.-sanctioned Hezbollah military commander who was a significant figure in forming Iran-backed Shia terror organizations responsible for the murder of American soldiers in Iraq.

In addition to the five Iranian advisors, an undisclosed number of Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack, according to IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, which confirmed the deaths citing an IRGC statement.

Citing a military source, Syrian state-controlled media reported that Israel carried out the attack from the direction of the Golan Heights.

“At approximately 10:20 this morning, the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting a residential building in the Mezzeh neighborhood in the city of Damascus,” the statement said.

Following the assault, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi warned that the killing of the advisors would “not pass without a response.”

The Israelis have launched two airstrikes in the past four weeks that resulted in the killing of IRGC officers. On Dec. 26, 2023, the Israeli Air Force killed Razi Mousavi who was described by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, “a veteran advisor of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.” Mousavi was a key interlocutor between Iran and the Syrian regime who also facilitated the transfer of weapons from Iran to Syria, which were then sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Israelis have been targeting IRGC advisors in Syria in preparation for an expected escalation in fighting against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, which has the full backing and support of Iran, has been launching a handful of attacks against northern Israel daily. Israel has refrained from launching a full-on assault against Hezbollah as it is engaged against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups in Gaza.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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