Israel suspected of deadly airstrike on Iranian embassy in Syria

Suspected Israeli warplanes bombed Iran’s embassy in Syria on Monday, a marked escalation in a war pitting Israel against its regional adversaries, and Tehran said the strike killed seven military advisers including three senior commanders.

Reuters reporters at the site in the Mezzeh district of Damascus saw emergency workers clambering atop rubble of a destroyed building inside the diplomatic compound, adjacent to the main embassy building. Emergency vehicles were parked outside. An Iranian flag hung from a pole by the debris.

Building partly used as ambassador’s residence

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Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 1, 2024. An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said Monday. (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki).

The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at a regular news briefing that the United States remained “concerned about anything that would be escalatory or cause an increase in conflict in the region.”

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Miller said he did not expect it to impact talks on freeing Israeli hostages held by Iran-backed Hamas.

Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which precipitated the war in Gaza, Israel has escalated airstrikes in Syria against both Iran’s Guards and the Tehran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, both of which support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Friday, Israel carried out its deadliest strikes in months on northern Syria’s Aleppo province and killed a senior Hezbollah fighter in Lebanon. It has also regularly struck the airports in Aleppo and Damascus in an attempt to halt Iran’s weapons transfers to its proxies.

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The Israeli military said on Monday it had stopped advanced weapons, including shrapnel charges and anti-tank mines, from being smuggled into the West Bank from Iran.

It said the weapons were uncovered during an operation against a Lebanese-based operative of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which it said was recruiting agents to smuggle weapons and carry out attacks in the West Bank.

The chief spokesman for Israel’s army, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said late Monday that a drone attack on a naval base in southern Israel early Monday was “directed by Iran.” There were no injuries and only minor damage to a building, the army said.

—With additional files from the Associated Press

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: World