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Israel airstrikes Iranian consular building in Syria, Iran vows response

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Seven people, including a senior Iranian commander, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consular annex in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday, marking a major escalation in Israel’s conflicts with its regional adversaries.

The Syrian Defense Ministry said the missile attack occurred at about 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) when Israel launched an aerial attack from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, targeting the building of the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that seven Iranian military advisers died in the strike including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in its Quds Force.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad condemned the attack and stressed that the move would not affect Syrian-Iranian relations.

Later, in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Mekdad condemned, in the strongest terms, Israel’s “criminal” attacks and called them “a flagrant violation” of international law, particularly the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.

Amir-Abdollahian, for his part, said the attack violated all international obligations and conventions, stressing that Israel would be responsible for the consequences of the action.

Iranian Ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari said the strike hit a consular building in the embassy compound and that his residence was on the top two floors.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hasn’t commented publicly. But an IDF spokesperson has claimed the building hit was being used by the Revolutionary Guards, making it a legitimate military target.

“This is no consulate and this is no embassy,” the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told CNN, adding that it’s “a military building of Quds Forces disguised as a civilian building in Damascus.”

Condemnations

Iranians held rallies in Tehran to condemn the Israeli attack on Monday night. One of the protesters told CMG that the Israeli airstrike is an act of violation and Iran should hit back hard.

In a statement released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry after the attack, ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was quoted as saying that Iran, while reserving its right to take countermeasures, would consider its response to the attack and determine the appropriate punishment for the “aggressor.”

Iran’s UN mission described the strike as a “flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, international law, and the foundational principle of the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises.”

Saying the strike was “a significant threat to regional peace and security,” the Iranian mission urged the UN Security Council to condemn the attack and said Tehran reserved the right “to take a decisive response.”

Lebanese armed group Hezbollah vowed to retaliate. “This crime will not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” the group said in a statement.

Muslim nations including Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also condemned the attack, as did Russia.

Noting that the attack was carried out in a densely populated metropolitan area with a high risk of mass civilian casualties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said such “aggressive” actions by Israel are “absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped.”

Regional tensions

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington remained “concerned about anything that would be escalatory or cause an increase in conflict in the region” but did not expect the strike to affect talks on freeing Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Experts were divided on whether the Monday attack would spark significantly greater violence.

Jon Alterman of Washington’s CSIS think tank, said the attack probably reflected Israel’s belief that such strikes are deterrents and make a wider conflict less, rather than more, likely.

“The Israelis are convinced that if they seek to hang back, the threat will grow and not diminish,” he said. “They are persuaded that as long as they do something like this periodically, their adversaries will be deterred.”

However, Osama Danura, a Syrian political expert, described the attack as an unprecedented escalation of Israeli aggression in the region, coming at a time when Israel’s military operations have already inflicted a crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“The recent Israeli aggression on regional countries is unprecedented. This highlights the dangerous nature of Israel’s actions,” Danura said.

“The attack on diplomatic missions violates international laws, indicating a significant threat to the region. It is crucial to establish international cooperation to halt this escalation,” he added.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran warns against retaliation after first direct attack on Israel

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Iran’s mission to the United Nations said on early Sunday that Tehran’s retaliation for an attack on its diplomatic compound in Syria has ended, warning Israel against “another mistake” after Iran’s first military strike on Israeli territory.

The statement came after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a suite of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late Saturday, further raising tensions between the two countries over Israel’s alleged killing of senior IRGC commanders in Syria earlier this month.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!” the Iranian mission said on social media platform X.

Sirens wailed, and the loud sounds of suspected drone interceptions reverberated across Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said it had intercepted most of the 200 missiles and drones headed toward the country. A Reuters report said the U.S. military in the region had also shot down an undisclosed number of drones.

Still, in the early hours of Sunday, a senior Israeli official vowed to respond in an “unprecedented” way and urged Israelis to remain awake for what might be coming afterward, local media reported.

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden, an ardent supporter of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, cut short his weekend vacation and met with his national security team, after which he reaffirmed his “commitment to Israel’s security” on X.

The IRGC strike was an inevitable response as the United Nations Security Council failed to condemn Israel’s alleged attack on Iran’s diplomatic facility in Syria, Wei Mingchen, an associate research fellow of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of Chines Academy of Social Science, told CGTN.

But Iran’s warning about an Israeli response indicated its unwillingness to see the expansion of hostilities into a major Middle Eastern conflict or a full-blown war between the two countries – a deescalatory tone that’s directed toward both Israel and the U.S., Wei said.

War between Israel and Iran would “incur tremendous security, social and economic damage to the Islamic Republic,” he said.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran launches large-scale drone, missile attack against Israel

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JERUSALEM, April 14 (Xinhua) — Iran has launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles toward Israel, the Israeli military said on Saturday night.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing that the drones would take several hours to arrive in Israeli airspace and that the country’s defense systems would try to intercept them.

An official statement said the Israeli airspace will be closed from 00:30 a.m. (2130 GMT).

The Israeli military said in a statement that it is “constantly monitoring the operational situation.” According to the statement, “the IDF Aerial Defense Array is on high alert, along with Israel Air Force fighter jets and Israeli Navy vessels that are on a defense mission in Israeli air and naval space.”

Hagari called the Iranian aerial attack on Israel “a severe and dangerous escalation,” adding that Israel’s “defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran.”

Israeli and U.S. forces are in “close coordination” and “dozens” of fighter jets are currently airborne, preparing for the Iranian aircraft’s arrival in Israeli airspace, according to the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, two Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Xinhua that several cruise missiles were also launched from Iran toward Israel.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) confirmed in a broadcast statement that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel from Iran.

The IRGC added the details of the operation would be announced soon, stressing that it was carried out with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and under the supervision of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces.

Iranian media reported that about 50 UAVs have been launched. Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the drones were launched from Iran as well as from other countries allied with Iran.

Israel has been on heightened alert over the past few days following Iranian threats to avenge the killing of seven Iranian officers in its consular building in Damascus, Syria, earlier in April, which was carried out by Israel, according to Iran.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Hamas leader’s family killed in Israeli strike as truce talks drag on

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An Israeli strike on Wednesday killed three of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s sons in Gaza, as conflict rages in the Palestinian territory despite ongoing truce negotiations.

Hamas said in a statement that three of Haniyeh’s sons and four of his grandchildren were killed in the air strike. Israel confirmed the killings, saying the sons were “Hamas operatives” who were “on their way to carry out terrorist activities.”

The strike came as talks in Cairo dragged on, with Hamas still considering the latest proposal. A framework being circulated would halt fighting for six weeks and see the exchange of about 40 hostages for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said, “It’s now up to Hamas. They need to move on the proposal that’s been made.”

Reacting to the strike that killed his sons and grandchildren, Haniyeh told Al Jazeera, “If they (Israel) think that targeting my children at the peak of these talks and before the movement’s response, if they think that this will force Hamas to change its positions, they are delusional.”

“Our demands are clear and specific, and we will not make concessions on them,” Haniyeh said.

Israel’s offensive in the past months has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israeli troops would nevertheless enter Rafah and return to Khan Yunis, from which they withdrew several days ago, said Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz.

The army would have to fight for years to come “in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, and on the Lebanon front,” Gantz added.

As the conflict rages, there has been a growing chorus of international criticism aimed at the lack of aid entering the territory.

Humanitarian groups have accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon in the conflict, where UN experts say half the population is facing “catastrophic” food insecurity.

Israel denies the charges, and has repeatedly blamed the UN and aid organizations for distribution problems.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they are planning on distributing aid to Gaza through a new crossing and a port just north of the besieged territory.

“We plan to flood Gaza with aid and we are expecting to reach 500 trucks per day,” Gallant said.

He also vowed to “streamline security checks” that aid organizations had blamed for choking the flow of aid through six months of the conflict.

Israel promised last week it would open the Erez crossing in the north after a tense telephone call between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the U.S. president demanded “immediate action” on aid.

But it is understood Israel’s trucks will not use the crossing, with the country’s media reporting that the government feared protests from far-right groups who are against any aid reaching Gaza.

Source(s): CGTN

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