The Middle East witnessed another escalation of tensions as a suspected Israeli air strike in the Syrian capital, Damascus, resulted in the death of four senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC, a dominant force in Iran’s military, political, and economic landscape, has been actively involved in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the onset of the civil war in 2011.
The incident occurred in the Mazzeh neighborhood of Damascus, a strategically significant area housing a military airport and various international entities, including UN headquarters. Residents reported hearing explosions followed by a large cloud of smoke, resembling a missile attack. This sudden development led to the mobilization of ambulances and emergency services to the area.
Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency identified the deceased as IRGC’s intelligence chief in Syria, his deputy, and two other Guard members, marking a significant blow to Iranian military interests in the region. The victims have been named as Hojjatollah Omidvar, Ali Aghazadeh, Hossein Mohammadi and Saeed Karimi. The Syrian Arab News Agency, a state-run outlet, confirmed the strike and reported civilian casualties and destruction of property, indicating the strike’s impact on non-military targets.
The suspicion of Israeli involvement stems from the country’s long-standing policy of carrying out strikes against Iranian and Iranian-aligned targets in Syria. These operations have intensified since the Israel-Gaza war, which started following Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7th. Israel has not issued any comments regarding the recent Damascus strike.
This incident not only signifies a loss for Iran but also adds to the region’s fragile security situation. The Middle East has been on high alert since Hamas’s assault on southern Israel, which resulted in significant casualties and the taking of hostages, of whom many are still believed to be held.