April 1, 2024

Israeli Airstrike on Iranian Consulate in Damascus Kills Senior Iranian IRGC Leader

Iranian Consulate - Damascus, Syria

An Israeli airstrike in the early evening hours of April 1 on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, killed the apparent target of the operation, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

According to Iranian television, Zahedi was the commander of Qods Force units in Syria and Lebanon. The Qods Force is a capable special operations organization charged with much of Iranian activities in the region and around the world. A previous commander of the Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an American airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020.

According to the semi-official IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, five other IRGC commanders and two advisers were killed in the consulate along with Zahedi. They include Zahedi's deputy and chief or staff. The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the consulate building was completely destroyed. Syrian television added that everyone in the building was killed.

Mohammad Reza Zahedi

Zahedi is one the IRGC's top commanders with a wealth of operational and command experience. A combat veteran of the Irani-Iraq War, he previously served as the commander of the IRGC Air Force, then commander of the IRGC Ground Force, before taking command of all Qods Forces deployed to Lebanon and Syria - one of the key commands in the IRGC. 

The loss of Zahedi and virtually his entire senior staff is a severe blow to Iranian foreign policy in the region - this was a bad day for the Iranians.

I am impressed with the execution of the Israeli operation. 

I lived in Damascus not far from these Iranian diplomatic facilities - embassy, consulate, and ambassador's residence. These are located in crowded areas with civilian residential compounds and buildings. The Iranian diplomatic staff in Damascus reported that neither the ambassador nor any other personnel were injured in the attack - this shows the accuracy of the Israeli strike.

It also highlights the ability of the Israeli intelligence services to determine that at least eight IRGC commanders and advisers would be in the consulate building at the same time, and determine it in time to take action to eliminate the targets.