April 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Senior IRGC Leader Killed in Damascus Air Strike

April 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Senior IRGC Leader Killed in Damascus Air Strike

Latest Developments

Israel reportedly killed a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a Damascus airstrike on April 1. Mohammed Reza Zahedi was among five people who died when an explosion took place in a private property in the vicinity of Iran’s embassy in the Syrian capital, Iranian media and local sources said. Zahedi was most recently believed to be serving as chief of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon — a role that would have made him a top coordinator between Tehran and Hezbollah.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on what appeared to be a hit against a high-value target in response to escalating Iran-orchestrated attacks by Hezbollah from Lebanon as well as to more sporadic threats by pro-Tehran militias in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

In a March 29 statement, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a strategic shift from fending off Hezbollah to pursuing it. “We are turning from pushing back [Hezbollah] to hunting it,” he said. “Everywhere Hezbollah is found, we reach. This is true for Beirut, Baalbek, Tyre, Sidon, Nabatieh and across the entire sector, and it is also true for much more distant places like Damascus and beyond. Everywhere we need to act, we will act.” The identities of the other casualties in the Damascus explosion were not immediately published. Iran’s ambassador and his family were away at the time, Iranian media said.

Expert Analysis

“The precision and daring of this operation cannot be overstated. Israel is reaching a decision point on its northern front, where Hezbollah’s lethal provocations have become unbearable. Taking out a top-tier figure in the hostile axis that runs from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut is an effective way of getting the enemy to focus on what’s at stake.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Iran and Hezbollah are seeking to normalize a permanent war on Israel’s northern border. Israel is not going to allow that to happen. The IRGC operates in Syria in close coordination with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Israel’s actions in Syria, like Lebanon, are taken in self-defense.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

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