Iran officer dies in new Israel strike in Syria

Update Iran officer dies in new Israel strike in Syria
A file photo released on March 12, 2023 by the official Syrian Arab News Agency shows smoke billowing from a site targeted by Israeli airstrikes in Masyaf in the central Hama countryside. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 31 March 2023

Iran officer dies in new Israel strike in Syria

Iran officer dies in new Israel strike in Syria
  • Second missile attack in two days
  • No immediate statement from Israel, which usually declines to comment on reports of strikes in Syria

JEDDAH: An officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed in an Israeli missile strike early on Friday on Iran-linked targets on the outskirts of Damascus in Syria.

The attack on an arms depot for Assad regime forces and Iran-backed groups just south of the Syrian capital was the sixth by Israel this month, and the second in two days.

The Revolutionary Guards said the dead man, Milad Haydari, was an officer and military adviser. They vowed to response, and said the “criminal attack” would not go unanswered.

Syrian state media said Israel had attacked just after midnight, firing missiles that hit a site in the Damascus countryside. Syrian air defenses had shot down a number of missiles, it said.

Iranian-backed groups, including Iraqi militias and Hezbollah in Lebanon, have positions around Damascusand in Syria’s north, east and south.

Israel has for years carried out attacks against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting Bashar Assad in the civil war that began in 2011.

Iran says its officers serve in an advisory role in Syria at the invitation of Damascus. Dozens of Revolutionary Guard members, including senior officers, have been killed in Syria during the war.

“This is a very dangerous stage, the risks are very high and we should expect more to come,” said Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “The risk of escalation between Iran and Israel in Syria is higher than any time in the past few months, even possibly years.”

The latest violence underlined the possibility of further tensions in Syria even as several Arab countries move to normalize ties with Assad after 12 years of enmity. Syria remains partitioned, with several foreign armies on the ground, including US troops.

Iran-backed groups launched armed drones last week at a base hosting US forces in the northeast, killing one American contractor and injuring another. The US responded with airstrikes on installations in eastern Syria affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.

Friday's attack followed a strike on Thursday that wounded two soldiers. A source with Syria's opposition factions said it hit a car carrying pro-Iran personnel near a Syrian security building.

On March 22, an Israeli strike near the airport at the northern city of Aleppo briefly put it out of service. Regional intelligence sources said the attack hit an Iranian arms depot.