Iran Vows to Punish ‘Evil’ Israel for Attack Taking Out IRGC Terror Commander

Ayatollah Khamenei
Iranian Leader's Press Office - Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Several of Iran’s most powerful officials, including “supreme leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed revenge against Israel following an airstrike in Damascus, Syria, on Monday that eliminated a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leader.

“The evil regime will be punished by our brave men. We will make them regret this crime and other ones, by God’s will,” Khamenei proclaimed, according to the Iranian state-run PressTV propaganda network on Tuesday. Khamenei referred to Israel as “usurping and despicable.”

Khamenei’s underling, President Ebrahim Raisi, similarly threatened to order acts of terrorism against Israel in his own remarks on Tuesday, vowing the strike in Damascus “will not go unanswered.”

“After repeated defeats and failures in the face of the faith and will of the Resistance Front fighters [Hamas and other terrorists], the Zionist regime has put indiscriminate assassinations on its agenda in the struggle to save itself, but it should know that it will never achieve it sinister goals with such inhumane actions,” Raisi was quoted as saying in his first public remarks on the strikes.

“Day by day, Israel will witness the strengthening of the resistance front and the disgust and hatred of free nations towards its own illegitimate nature. This cowardly crime will not go unanswered,” he concluded.

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran. - President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran "does not intend any aggression" against its neighbours but will continue to produce all the weapons it needs for its defence. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country’s annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran. (ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty)

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that not just Israel, but the United States would have to take responsibility for the strike given its status as Israel’s top international ally.

“An important message has been sent to the US government as the sponsor of the Zionist regime [Israel]. The US must be answerable,” Amirabdollahian reportedly said.

No evidence suggests any American participation in the airstrike in question, nor did the Iranian foreign minister offer any.

The outrage in Tehran is in response to a reported airstrike in Syria that Iranian media claim destroyed the Iranian consulate in the capital city and killed seven “military advisers” there to cooperate with the brutal Bashar Assad regime. Reports in Israeli television later confirmed by the Iranian regime stated that among those killed was IRGC Quds Force commander Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and deputy General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi. Some reports suggested that the strike occurred as Zahedi hosted a meeting with members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization active against Israel believed to receive financial and ideological support from Iran.

In addition to suspected operations with terrorist groups near Israel, Zahedi was reportedly believed to cooperate closely with Iranian proxies in Lebanon.

The elimination of Zahedi from the battlefield is a major blow to Iran’s terrorist operations. The IRGC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization; its Quds Force is responsible for international terrorist operations, described as the IRGC’s “de facto external relations branch.” Quds Force leaders take on leadership roles in ensuring friendly ties to terrorist groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria, and narcoterrorist entities in Africa and Latin America, including the Marxist regimes of Cuba and Venezuela. The tremendous influence the Quds Force wields over Iranian international relations has irked the Foreign Ministry, sidelined from relationships with terror proxies, in the past.

Zahedi’s death is believed to be the biggest blow to the Iranian government since an American airstrike eliminated Major General Qasem Soleimani, the former head of the Quds Force, in January 2020. President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike as Soleimani was meeting with the head of the Iraqi terrorist Hezbollah Brigades, or Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed. The repercussions of taking Soleimani off of the battlefield reverberate today. Reports circulating in February indicated that Soleimani’s successor at the helm of the Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, asked Iran’s terror proxies to tone down attacks on U.S. forces, apparently out of concern of being targeted as Soleimani was.
Hezbollah reportedly also paid homage to Zahedi on Tuesday, praising him for helping “develop and advance the work” the terrorist group was conducting in Lebanon.

“This crime will certainly not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” a Hezbollah statement on the strike read, according to the Times of Israel.

The independent outlet Iran International reported that at least two “hardline figures” in Iran, politicians who advocate for war with the West, demanded Iranian forces conduct airstrikes against Israeli embassies. Iranian officials have vowed a response and claimed they are within their rights in international law to “take countermeasures,” but have yet to specify any response.

The IRGC-linked Iranian Tasnim News Agency also published photos of a government-organized rally in Tehran in which locals were forced to “vent their anger at the Zionist regime after the Israeli warplanes conducted a strike on the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus.”

Iran International suggested, citing anonymous sources, that the strike on the Iranian consulate was in itself a response to a drone attack against the southern Israeli city of Eilat on Sunday. The attack did not leave any casualties but targeted and partially destroyed a navy building in the port city.

The “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a nebulous group believed to be made up of Iranian terrorist proxies in Iraq, issued a statement taking responsibility for the strike on Eilat.

Israel has been under fire since October 7, when Hamas, a Sunni terrorist organization that receives lavish financial support from Iran, invaded the country, killing 1,200 people and abducting over 250 others. Hamas terrorists engaged in the killing of children as young as infants, tortured civilians in their own homes, and were documented committing gang rape and other sexual crimes.

The Iranian government celebrated the terrorist siege with street parties. A Hamas spokesman told the BBC on the record on October 7 that his group received “direct backing” from Iran to orchestrate the attack.

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