Senior Iranian commander killed in Israeli air strike on Damascus

Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus. Credit: AP

A senior Iranian commander has been killed after an airstrike Israeli airstrike in Syria's capital, state media has said.

The strike on Iran's embassy in Damascus killed or wounded everyone inside, with the commander named as Iranian military adviser General Ali Reza Zahdi, according to the Iranian Arabic-language state television Al-Alam and pan-Arab television station Al-Mayadeen.

Reza Zahdi led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016.

Iranian Ambassador Hossein Akbari condemned Israel and said as many as seven people were killed, but first responders were still searching for any other bodies under the rubble. He said two police officers who guard the building were wounded.

He vowed revenge for the strike “at the same magnitude and harshness.”

State media said the strike destroyed the consular building which stood next to Iran's main embassy.

In comments to the media after meeting Akbari, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said “several” people were killed.

Everyone in the building was killed or wounded. Credit: AP

Mekdad in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, condemned Israel over the attack.

Iranian state television said the Iranian ambassador’s residence was in the consular building, which stood next to the embassy.

State news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military source, said the building in the tightly guarded neighbourhood of Mazzeh was levelled.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years.

Such airstrikes have escalated in recent months against the backdrop of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and ongoing clashes between Israel’s military and Hezbollah on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Though it rarely acknowledges its actions in Syria, Israel has said it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

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