Iran vows retaliation on Israel after assassination of senior IRGC commander in Syria

Commander was reputed to be among the longest-serving and most prominent military advisers in Syria

Senior adviser for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Razi Mousavi, with late Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. Reuters
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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has promised retaliation against Israel after the assassination of a senior commander in a reported Israeli strike in Syria’s capital Damascus on Monday.

Brig Gen Razi Mousavi, known as Sayyed Razi, was a close colleague of the late IRGC leader Qassem Suleimani, killed by the US in Iraq in 2020, and was “responsible for supporting the resistance front in Syria", the IRGC media arm said.

The IRGC promised retribution in the statement announcing Brig Gen Mousavi’s, saying that “the usurping and barbaric Zionist regime will pay for this crime, without a doubt".

Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari declined to say on Monday if Israel was responsible for the killing Brig Gen Mousavi.

“The Israeli army’s duty is to maintain Israel’s security interests," Admiral Hagari said.

The commander was reputed to be one of the longest-serving and most prominent of the IRGC’s military advisers in Syria.

He was responsible for support and logistics for the IRGC's Quds Force – its foreign operations arm – in the country. Several attempts had been made on his life.

Israeli air strike kills dozens of Palestinians in Gaza refugee camp

Israeli air strike kills dozens of Palestinians in Gaza refugee camp

Before the announcement of Brig Gen Mousavi’s death, explosions were heard in the Damascus suburb of Sayeda Zainab, with Syrian media circulating video of smoke in the area.

The air strike hit his residence in Sayeda Zainab, according to Iranian media.

Israel often attacks Iranian militants and military advisers in Syria, but does not always claim ownership of the attacks.

While the Israeli military did not comment on the strike, it has tried for years to prevent Iranian entrenchment in neighbouring Syria.

Since the Iran-backed Hamas group's attacks on October 7, Israel has intensified its strikes on Iran-linked sites in Syria.

The events of October 7, when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, shocked Israel.

It retaliated with an air and ground assault on Gaza in an attempt to root out Hamas, killing more than 20,600 Palestinians.

In response, the Axis of Resistance – an alliance of Iran-backed militant groups across the Middle East – expressed military support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Lebanese Hezbollah group has waged a cross-border conflict with Israel from Lebanon for the past two-and-a-half months, seeking to divert its enemy from its war in Gaza. Hezbollah also operates in Syria.

In Yemen, the Iran-backed Houthis have attacked Israel-linked ships in the Red Sea – demanding an end to Israel's war in Gaza and the delivery of life-saving food and medical supplies to the enclave.

In a video shared on Iranian media, Mousavi recites the memory of a dream he had.

In the dream, Gen Suleimani tells him: "Sayyed Razi, you're getting on in years. It's time for you to be martyred as well."

Updated: December 27, 2023, 1:50 PM