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'Step aside so you won't get hurt': Iran to US as it readies attack on Israel for strike in Syria

The suspected Israeli bombing of an Iranian consulate in Syria killed 12 people, including seven Revolutionary Guard members, four Syrians and a Hezbollah member. Top Iranian military commander Mohammed Reza Zahedi, marking he most high-profile killing since Qassem Soleimani's death in 2020.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: April 06, 2024 9:51 IST
Iran warns US, Israel, Iran to attack Israel, Israel strike in Syria, Iranian consulate
Image Source : AP Iranians held a funeral procession for the seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in the Israeli strike in Syria.

Washington: The United States is on high alert and preparing for a possible retaliatory attack by Iran targeting Israeli or American assets in the region in response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria earlier this week, according to a US official. The suspected Israeli attack in Damascus on Monday killed Iranian military commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi and others, marking the most high-profile killing since a US strike killed Qassem Soleimani in 2020.

"We're definitely at a high state of vigilance," the official said in confirming a CNN report that said an attack could come in the next week. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said that seven Iranian military advisers died in the strike, including Zahedi, a senior commander in its Quds Force, which is an elite foreign espionage and paramilitary arm. Iran has said it reserves the right "to take a decisive response."

US President Joe Biden discussed the threat from Iran in a phone call on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Our teams have been in regular and continuous contact since then. The United States fully supports the defence of Israel against threats from Iran," a senior Biden administration official said.

In all, 12 people were killed in Monday's strike on the Iranian diplomatic compound — seven Guard members, four Syrians and a Hezbollah member. It was not clear if Iran would respond directly or continue to activate its proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as it has done throughout the Gaza war.

Iran tells US to 'step aside'

Iranian leaders have promised to hit back at Israel, with President Ebraham Raisi saying that the attack  “will not remain without answer.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will continue to fail on the battlefield in Gaza, and its defeats will bring it closer to collapse. “Desperate efforts like the act they committed in Syria will not save them from defeat and they will be slapped for the action, too,” Khamenei added.

In a post on X, Mohammed Jamshidi, the Iranian president's deputy chief of staff for political affairs, said that Iran has "warned the US to not get dragged in Netanyahu's trip", referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Stay away so you won't get hurt. In response US asked Iran not to target American facilities," he added.

On Friday, the IRGC commander warned that “our brave men will punish the Zionist regime,” further escalating threats against Israel for an airstrike that killed seven of the group's members. The tensions flared against the backdrop of the six-month-old Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, and raised renewed fears of a widening regional conflict.

On Friday, thousands joined a funeral procession in Tehran for the seven slain Guard members, chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America.” Marchers held up banners with the photos of those killed in the attack. Other banners read: “We will make the wicked Zionist regime regret this crime, with the power of God.”

“The collapse of (the Zionist regime) is very possible and close with God's grace,” said General Hossein Salami, adding that the US has become “wildly hated by the world, especially in Muslim-dominated countries” for supporting Israel. He further asserted that “no enemy act against our holy system will go unanswered.”

US denies knowledge of Israeli strike

The Biden administration insists it had no advance knowledge of the airstrike on the Iranian consulate on Monday, but Washington is closely tied to Israel's military regardless. The US remains Israel's indispensable ally and unstinting supplier of weapons, responsible for some 70 per cent of Israeli weapon imports and an estimated 15 per cent of Israel's defence budget.

On top of that, the United States, Britain and France on Wednesday opposed a Russian-drafted UN Security Council statement that would have condemned an attack on Iran's embassy compound in Syria. The three countries said many of the facts of what happened on Monday in Damascus remained unclear, while Israel is yet to claim responsibility for the attack.

The US is concerned the deadly strike in Damascus could trigger new attacks on American troops by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, said Lt Gen Alexus Grynkewich, the top US Air Force commander for the Middle East. By attacking an Iranian diplomatic station, Israel's apparent escalation has raised fears that the devastating six-month war against Hamas could spill over into the entire Mideast region and beyond.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | CIA warns Israel of Iran's possible retaliation within 48 hours for consulate attack in Syria


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