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2 Apr, 2024 08:54

Moscow condemns assassination of Iranian generals

Diplomatic missions cannot be targeted, Russia said after an Israeli strike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus
Moscow condemns assassination of Iranian generals

Russia has rebuked Israel after an airstrike that demolished the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday evening.

The attack reportedly killed several Iranian diplomats as well as seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals – Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi. Tehran has vowed to avenge their deaths.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Moscow views as unacceptable any attack on diplomatic missions, which are protected under the Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations. It noted that bombing of the building, located in a residential area, posed a high risk to Syrian civilians.

“We consider it necessary for all responsible members of the international community to declare their positions clearly and give their legal assessments of this action,” the statement said. It warned that Israel could trigger a major regional escalation with its attacks in Syria and other nations in the region.

Israel has not commented on the strike, which its usual practice with such operations. Israeli officials have previously acknowledged targeting Iran-linked forces in Syria, with dozens of such raids attributed to the Jewish state over the years.

The White House did not immediately comment on the incident. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday that Washington was “looking into it”.

A national security spokesperson quoted by Axios said the US “had no involvement in the strike and we did not know about it ahead of time.” A senior US official told the news outlet that Washington “has communicated this directly to Iran”.

Israel notified its key ally minutes before the strike took place, when its fighter jets were already in the air, the Axios article said. The Israelis allegedly said they were going to kill General Zahedi, but did not offer details of their operation, such as his location at the Iranian consulate.

General Zahedi was a senior commander with the Quds Force, the IRGC unit responsible for operations on foreign soil, while General Rahimi was his deputy. Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone strike during a visit to Iraq in January 2020, was the commander of the same division.