June 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Alleged Israeli Airstrike Kills Iranian Military Advisor in Syria

June 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Alleged Israeli Airstrike Kills Iranian Military Advisor in Syria

Latest Developments

An Israeli airstrike killed a military advisor belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) near Aleppo, Syria, Iranian state media claimed on June 3. The death of Gen. Saeed Abyar marked the first IRGC officer allegedly killed by Israel in Syria since the Jewish state eliminated seven IRGC members, including two senior commanders, in an airstrike in Damascus on April 1. Tehran escalated following the Damascus attack, firing more than 300 ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, Iran’s first-ever direct attack against the Jewish state. The air defenses of Israel and allied states intercepted nearly all the projectiles. Iran reportedly deployed Abyar to Syria in 2012.

Israel has not said that it conducted the strike in Aleppo. Jerusalem rarely takes responsibility for individual strikes, although it acknowledges a sustained effort to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the transport of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Expert Analysis

“Operations in Syria are an integral part of Tehran’s campaign to surround Israel with an array of proxies committed to its destruction. The IRGC runs a network of militias inside Syria that ship advanced Iranian weapons to Hezbollah, traffic in narcotics, and lay the groundwork for aggression against Israel. Rather than tolerate this build-up, Israel has been conducting surgical operations for years to curtail its growth.” — David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

“Iran’s clerical regime has yet to end its support to terror and proxy groups encircling the Jewish state and causing regional instability. How Tehran responds to the strike in Aleppo will be yet another test of its self-declared new doctrine of reserving the right to respond overtly and from Iranian soil to any perceived threat.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

IRGC Mourns Abyar

The New York Times reported that the Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, “published a photograph of General Abyar, clad in black and standing at a Shiite shrine. His coffin, draped in the Iranian flag with his photograph attached, was taken to the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus, photographs on social media showed.” Tasnim said Abyar was “martyred” by Israel. Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the IRGC, attended a funeral for Abyar in Tehran.

Iranian Entrenchment in Syria

The IRGC’s Quds Force (IRGC-QF) has provided crucial support to the regime of Bashar al-Assad since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. On Assad’s behalf, Quds Force personnel have organized, trained, and commanded an array of primarily Shiite militias from across the region. The IRGC-QF has also exploited its freedom of action in Syria to ship advanced weapons to Hezbollah, especially precision-guided munitions. In addition, the Quds Force has sought to establish military infrastructure that would serve Tehran’s purposes in the future. In response, Jerusalem has launched hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian, Hezbollah, and militia targets to prevent both their entrenchment in Syria and the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

Alleged Israeli Airstrike in Syria Kills IRGC Officer and Hezbollah Members,” FDD Flash Brief

At Least Two Reported Killed in Alleged Israeli Airstrike in Damascus,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Evacuates IRGC Officers From Syria,” FDD Flash Brief

Two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Killed in Reported Syria Strike by Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Israel at War Syria