Israeli strike eliminates senior IRGC Qods Force officers in Damascus

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a statement acknowledging the deaths of seven advisors in an Israeli airstrike that hit an area of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, on April 1. The attack is the most significant airstrike against Iran and the IRGC on Syrian soil by the Jewish state to date.

The IRGC identified Brigadier General Muhammed Reza Zahedi, his deputy Brigadier General Muhammed Hadi Hajrahimi, and five other IRGC officers who were killed in the attack.

According to Ynet News, “Zahedi was a senior IRGC officer serving as Iran’s envoy to command the Qods Force in Lebanon and Syria. He effectively led the IRCG’s regional Intelligence Division and ground and air forces. He was also involved in planning terrorist operations within Israel.”

Iranian media, citing Arabic-language reports, said the attack destroyed the Iranian consulate building adjacent to the embassy. However, the strike may have hit a private property in the vicinity of the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital.

Israel has significantly increased military operations against IRGC officers in Syria following the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas-led terrorist attack.

On Dec. 25, 2023, Israel killed Razi Mousavi, a senior officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in an airstrike in the Syrian capital. Mousavi was “a veteran advisor of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps,” according to IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, which confirmed his death.

Next month, on Jan. 20, an airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus, reportedly carried out by Israel, killed at least five IRGC-QF officers. The five IRGC-QF 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.

Lastly, hours after the strikes in Damascus, IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari accused Iran of orchestrating a drone attack in Eilat, Israel, that also occurred on the morning of April 1, 2024. “Tonight (Monday am), an unmanned aircraft made and directed by Iran hit the naval base in Eilat. This is a very serious incident,” said Hagari.

The Israeli airstrike targeting Mohammad Reza Zahedi and other members of the IRGC in Damascus carries two critical implications. Firstly, it serves as a clear message that Israel will not tolerate violent actions by the IRGC and its affiliates. Secondly, the decision to carry out a strike that would likely result in the destruction of the Iranian consulate demonstrates Israel’s willingness to take significant risks to reach those who are orchestrating attacks against the Jewish state despite the high potential for retaliatory actions by Iran or its proxies in the region.

Iran’s ambassador in Syria, Hossein Akbari, blamed Israel for the attack and vowed a “harsh” response.

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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