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Several people were killed, including an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander, in an Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, according to Syrian and Iranian officials, media and groups. opposition, sparking angry threats. retaliation by Iranian officials.

“Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the IRGC Quds Force, was killed in an attack by Zionist regime fighters on the consulate building of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Damascus,” Iranian state television reported.

Some reports identified Zahedi, 63, as a former Quds Force commander, but full details were not immediately available.

A military source told the official Syrian news agency that Israeli missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights and that the Syrian air defense system intercepted a number of them, but that some hit the target, resulting in the “total destruction of the building” and the killing and injuring of “everyone inside.”

Iranian commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi (file photo)

Iranian commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi (file photo)

Iran, however, said the consulate annex was hit by six missiles fired by F35 fighter jets.

An Israeli military spokesperson did not comment specifically, saying only: “We do not comment on reports appearing in foreign media.”

The White House said it was aware of the information. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said at a daily press briefing that Washington was “concerned about anything that could lead to escalation or cause an increase in conflict in the region.”

Iranian Ambassador to Damascus Hossein Akbar told Syrian television that five to seven people were killed in the attack.

The ambassador said he and his family were not hurt, but he promised Iran’s response would be “tough.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a phone call to his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, that his government held Israel responsible for the attack and called it “a violation of all international conventions,” according to Iranian state television.

Amir-Abdollahian “stressed the need for a serious response from the international community to such criminal actions,” the report said.

The IRGC later said seven of its members had been killed, including Zahedi and his deputy, Hadi Haji Rahimi.

The Syrian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Israel attacked the consulate building and “all those present in the building were killed or injured.” Rescue teams were evacuating the injured.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack” which resulted in “the martyrdom of a number of innocent people,” Mekdad said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a close ally of Iran and Russia, counting on their support to stay in power despite major opposition and a civil war in the country.

Tehran has maintained a strong military presence in Syria, while Israel has periodically carried out attacks on Iran-linked sites in the country, often targeting IRGC commanders.

The Iranian state television report said the Israeli strike was a targeted “assassination” attack on the Quds commander, which is sure to increase tensions in the already tense Middle East region.

The Quds Force is the elite foreign branch of the IRGC and has been declared a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

The Iranian state television report also said several Iranian diplomats were killed in the attack.

Saudi television channel Al-Arabiya reported that “a senior Iranian official” was the target of the strike.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “Israeli missiles” destroyed an Iranian embassy annex building in Damascus and eight people were killed.

According to Reuters journalists present at the scene, smoke was rising from the ruins of a “razed” building. Journalists said an Iranian flag was seen on a pole in front of the rubble and that Syrian and Iranian officials were present at the scene.

With reporting from Reuters and AFP

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