December 2, 2023 | Flash Brief

Two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Killed in Reported Syria Strike by Israel

December 2, 2023 | Flash Brief

Two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Killed in Reported Syria Strike by Israel

Latest Developments​

Two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers were killed in a reported Israeli air strike in Syria on December 2. Israel acknowledges conducting hundreds of air strikes over the past decade, but very rarely takes responsibility for specific attacks. As is customary, Israel did not confirm conducting the predawn strike near Damascus, in which Syria said several targets were hit. Hours later, Iranian state media said the strike killed two IRGC officers. The Iranian report claimed that the two had been on an “advisory mission” in Syria and appeared to be the first Iranian fatalities in multi-front hostilities with Israel since the Gaza war erupted on October 7.

Expert Analysis​

“The regime in Iran has sought to distance itself from the Gaza conflagration it helped set alight, as well as from the violence against Israel by its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. But given its entrenchment in Syria, it was only a matter of time before its own personnel would pay the price of this unprecedented flare-up. The Israelis, it is safe to assume, knew who they were hitting outside Damascus and saw the value of eliminating the targets as far outweighing any risk of further escalation.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The Israelis have a ten-year track record of striking Iranian assets in Syria. It was part of a gray zone campaign. But the fighting in the gray zone has ended. Israel is at war. Iranian assets across the Middle East are at risk. Iranian military officers are among the targets of opportunity that we should expect to see in the weeks and months ahead.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“The Assad regime has not played a major role in the war Hamas started on October 7, but the regime is an integral part of Iran’s so-called ‘Axis of Resistance.’ Syria is an indispensable waystation for Iranian arms en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon, including advanced weapons such as precision-guided munitions. Israel has long feared that Hezbollah would carry out precisely the kind of operation Hamas did on October 7.” David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

Iran Backed Hezbollah Entrenched in Syria

Tehran supports Damascus and has often intervened in the Syrian civil war by sending IRGC fighters to Syria, where they serve as advisors to a range of Iran-backed Shiite militias from across the region. Iran also employs those militias to threaten both Israel and U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq. In response, Israel has carried out various operations to reduce Iranian entrenchment in Syria, in addition to launching air strikes on convoys bringing weapons from Iran to the Levant. Iranian-backed groups in Syria have launched rockets at Israel in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 massacre that killed more than 1,200 people.

Israeli forces last conducted an airstrike against Iran-backed forces in Syria on November 10, after terrorists in Syria struck an elementary school in Israel’s southern city of Eilat with an armed drone. Iran’s IRGC forces in Syria, Syrian regime forces, and Hezbollah have all used drones during the Syrian civil war. On November 26, Israel struck Damascus airport, putting it out of service.   

Israel’s Defense Minister Visits Lebanese Border,” FDD Flash Brief

Hezbollah Increases Attacks on Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Strikes Syrian Terror Group That Targeted Eilat School with Drone,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Syria