Iran foreign minister in Syria after consulate strike blamed on Israel

Iran’s foreign minister visited the Syrian capital Monday, local media reported, a week after a deadly strike blamed on Israel destroyed Tehran’s Damascus consulate, sending regional tensions skyrocketing.

Tehran, a key Damascus ally, has vowed to avenge last Monday’s airstrike on the Iranian embassy’s consular section that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members, including two generals.

The strike came against the backdrop of Israel and Hamas’ ongoing war, which began with the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel.

Damascus and Tehran have blamed Israel, which has not commented on the raid.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian began a regional tour a day earlier in Oman, long a mediator between Tehran and the West, where Muscat’s foreign minister called for de-escalation.

Amir-Abdollahian is set to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad during the visit, while Syria’s information ministry said he was to inaugurate a new Iranian consular section.

Syria’s pro-government newspaper al-Watan said the officials’ talks would be “mainly focused” on repercussions of last week’s strike.

An advisor to Iran’s supreme leader warned Sunday that Israeli embassies were “no longer safe” after the attack.

Analysts saw the raid as an escalation of Israel’s campaign against Iran and its regional proxies that runs the risk of triggering a wider war beyond the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said 16 people had been killed in the consulate strike: eight Iranians, five Syrians and one member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, as well as two civilians.

Among the dead were generals Mohammad-Reza Zahedi and Mohammad-Hadi Haji-Rahimi who were senior commanders in the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign operations arm.

Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since civil war broke out 13 years ago, targeting Iran-backed forces including Hezbollah as well as Syrian army positions and weapons depots.

It rarely comments on individual strikes but the raids have increased since the Gaza war began.

Tehran backs Palestinian militants Hamas but has denied any direct involvement in the group’s attack, which sparked massive Israeli retaliation in the Gaza Strip.

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