Iran FM accuses US of approving strike on Damascus consulate

AFP , Monday 8 Apr 2024

Iran's foreign minister again accused the United States Monday of approving a deadly Israeli strike that destroyed Tehran's Damascus consulate last week, shortly after inaugurating a new consulate in the Syrian capital.

Syria - Iran
This handout picture released by the Syrian Presidency s Telegram channel shows Syria s President Bashar al-Assad (R) receiving Iran s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Damascus on April 8, 2024. AFP


Tehran, a key Damascus ally, has vowed to avenge last Monday's air strike 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's ongoing Gaza war, which has killed at least 33,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

"America is responsible for this incident and must be held accountable," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Damascus.

"The fact that the US and two European countries opposed a (UN Security Council) resolution condemning the attack on the Iranian embassy is a sign that the US gave the green light to the Zionist regime (Israel)" to carry out the attack, he claimed.

On April 2, a day after the consulate strike, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dismissed as "nonsense" comments by Amir-Abdollahian that Washington, Israel's main backer, bore responsibility for the attack.

On Monday, Abdollahian inaugurated the new consular section in a Damascus building in the presence of his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad, whom he also met earlier Monday, state news agency SANA said.

He also met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

An AFP correspondent at the inauguration said the new consulate was not far from the premises destroyed by the strike in the upscale Mazzeh area, which also houses other foreign embassies and UN offices.

Iran's foreign minister began a regional tour Sunday in Oman, long a mediator between Tehran and the West, where Muscat's foreign minister called for de-escalation.

An adviser to Iran's supreme leader warned on Sunday that Israeli embassies were "no longer safe" after the Damascus 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 conflict beyond Israel's war on Gaza.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said 16 people were killed in the consulate strike: eight Iranians, five Syrians, one member of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance group and two civilians.

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

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

It rarely comments on individual strikes, but Israel's raids have increased since the Gaza war began in early October.

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