Israel seeks to fuel Middle East conflict, Russian envoy tells UN Security Council

Israeli strike on Iranian embassy in Damascus killed at least 11 people, including senior IRGC commanders

The Iranian embassy compound in Damascus after the deadly Israeli air strike. AFP
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Russia accused Israel of seeking to fuel conflict in the Middle East, following the strike on Iran's embassy compound in Damascus.

The Israeli attack on Monday evening killed at least 11 people. Senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, head of the Quds Force in Lebanon, were among the dead.

Tehran has vowed to retaliate. Israel has so far declined to comment.

Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council that Moscow considered such aggressive actions to be designed by Israel “to further fuel the conflict” in the region.

He called on Israel to abandon the “practice of provocative acts of force in the territory of Syria and other neighbouring countries”.

Algeria's UN ambassador, Amar Bendjama, told the council that Israel wanted to use the strike to escalate the conflict and “prolong the killing of Palestinians for internal, political calculation". He accused Israel with seeking to “draw the entire region into conflict".

The Pentagon on Tuesday said it believed Israel was behind the strike. It was one of several such attacks carried out in Syria since the war in Gaza began on October 7, and comes days after dozens of goverment soldiers and Iran-backed fighters were killed near Aleppo.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US had “nothing to do” with the strike on the embassy compound.

“We were not involved in any way whatsoever. So the comments by the Iranian foreign minister that somehow we are to be held to account or we’re to blame – it’s just nonsense,” he told reporters.

Robert Wood, deputy US ambassador to the UN, said Washington did not yet have confirmation of the status of the building struck in Damascus. Mr Nebenzya accused his western colleagues of “verbal gymnastics”.

“The United States always possess information on any topic firsthand...but suddenly surprisingly, the US still has no confirmation in this case, or no verified data regarding the strike on the Consulate of Iran,” said the Russian ambassador.

“How puzzling indeed,” he noted.

Iran’s deputy envoy to the UN, Zahra Ershadi, said the final and "accurate death toll remains uncertain as the entire diplomatic premises has been destroyed with individuals trapped under the rubble.”

She called on the council to “vehemently condemn this unjustified criminal act and terrorist attack” on Iran's diplomatic premises in Damascus.

Ms Ershadi said Iran has exercised “considerable restraint” but Israel must now bear “full responsibility” for the consequences of the attack. Iran reserves its rights under international law and the UN Charter “to take decisive response to such reprehensible acts.”

China’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Geng Shuang, said that since October 7, the “red line” of international law had been breached “time and again, and the moral bottom line of human conscience has been crushed time and time again”.

“Such a situation, such a tragedy must stop immediately," he added.

Updated: April 03, 2024, 5:12 AM