Hezbollah, Iran Promise Retribution for Israeli Strikes in Syria, IGRC Generals Killed”

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Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah joined Iran on Tuesday to warn Israel that it will pay for killing high-level Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Israel struck the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday eliminating seven IRGC members including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and another high-ranking officer, Brigadier General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi.

Hezbollah remembered Zahedi in a statement and thanked him for advancing the group’s growth and said that Zahedi was “one of the first to support, sacrifice, and persevere for many years to develop and advance the work of the resistance (Hezbollah) in Lebanon”.

“(Israel is) foolish when it believes that liquidating the leaders can stop the roaring tide of the people’s resistance,” Hezbollah said in its statement.

Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily cross-border fire with Israel in support of its ally Hamas since the Gaza war erupted in October.

“Certainly, this crime will not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 people were killed in the strikes, including eight Iranians, two Syrians and one Lebanese, all of them fighters.

Zahedi led Iran’s elite Quds Force for Palestine, Syria and Lebanon and was killed along with his deputy, his aide, and the Quds force chief of staff for the same unit.

Fears of further violence between Israel and Iran’s allies triggered by the Gaza war are expected to rise as Iranian officials have vowed a stiff response.

The Iranian consular building was levelled in the attack, Syrian news agencies said. However, the main embassy building was intact but the attack also posed a threat to Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, whose residence was inside the consular building.

Hossein Akbari, vowed revenge for the strike “at the same magnitude and harshness”.

Charles Lister, a Syria expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said the attack was a ‘major escalation’ and other experts also concurred that there was no doubt that Iran would retaliate.

Israel has attacked scores of Iranian-linked targets in Syria over the years with the apparent intent of disrupting arms transfers and other cooperation with Hezbollah. which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

An Israeli airstrike in a Damascus neighbourhood in December killed a longtime Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Syria, Seyed Razi Mousavi.

A similar strike on a building in Damascus in January killed at least five Iranian advisers. Last week, an Iranian adviser was killed in airstrikes over the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, near the Iraqi border.

(with inputs from agencies)

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