Syria says an Israeli airstrike has destroyed Iran's consulate building in Damascus, with deaths

Syria says an Israeli airstrike has destroyed Iran's consulate building in Damascus, with deaths

Damascus | An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran's embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said Monday.

The Iranian Arabic-language state television Al-Alam and pan-Arab television station Al-Mayadeen, which has reporters in Syria, said the strike killed Iranian military adviser Gen. Ali Reza Zahdi. Zahdi previously led the Iranian elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016.

There was no official confirmation from Iran.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the media after meeting Iran's ambassador, Hossein Akbari, that “several” people were killed, without further information. 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 neighborhood of Mazzeh was levelled. First responders were searching for bodies under the rubble.

The Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike killed at least six people.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside 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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