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International Business Times
International Business Times
AFP News

Iran Guards Say Israeli Strike Kills Senior General In Syria

This undated picture released by Iran's Tasnim news agency shows Razi Moussavi (L), a senior adviser for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), alongside IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in 2020 (Credit: AFP)

An Israeli strike in Syria has killed a senior general with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the military force said, with Tehran vowing retribution.

The incident further raises tension in the Middle East where Iran-aligned groups have escalated attacks since Iran-backed Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering a war with Israel.

Iranian state media also reported the death of Razi Moussavi, describing him as "one of the most experienced advisers" of Quds Force, the foreign arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which has intensified attacks in Syria, particularly against Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Moussavi is the most senior Quds Force commander to be killed outside Iran since General Qasem Soleimani. A US drone strike in Baghdad nearly four years ago -- on January 3, 2020 -- killed Soleimani, the Quds Force leader.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed condolences for Moussavi's death, saying Israel "will certainly pay for this crime".

The general "was killed during an attack by the Zionist regime a few hours ago in Zeinabiyah district in the suburbs of Damascus," official news agency IRNA reported, using a different name for Sayyida Zeinab south of the Syrian capital.

Moussavi was "active in the field of providing logistical support to the axis of resistance in Syria," IRNA said, referring to groups backed by Tehran and arrayed against Israel.

An IGRC statement said a "missile attack" killed Moussavi, and vowed to avenge his death.

The statement noted that Moussavi was a "companion" of Soleimani.

Iran's state TV said "three missiles" targeted Moussavi and aired footage showing smoke rising from the area of the strike.

Tehran's ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari told Iran's Mehr news agency that the general's house was targeted "at 4:20 pm (1320 GMT) by three missiles."

"The building was destroyed," and Moussavi's body was later found in the yard, he said.

A Britain-based monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported Israeli strikes on positions used by Iranian groups and Hezbollah in the Sayyida Zeinab area.

Residents reported hearing loud explosions and seeing columns of smoke rising from farms in the area.

"We consider this assassination a flagrant attack that crosses the limits," Lebanon's Hezbollah said in a statement, adding that Moussavi had supported the group for decades.

Hezbollah and Israeli forces have been exchanging regular fire over their border during the Gaza war.

Since Syria's civil war began in 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on targets in Syria, primarily against Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.

On December 2, the IRGC accused Israel of killing two of its members in Syria, where the force said they had been on an advisory mission, without providing further details.

The Islamic republic, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, has hailed the deadly attacks on southern Israel as a "success" but denied any direct involvement.

Iran does not recognise Israel and has made support for the Palestinian cause a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Israel rarely comments on reported strikes in Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-enemy Iran to expand its presence in Syria.

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