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Iran’s supreme leader openly threatens Israel, says 'evil Zionist regime will be punished'

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Photo:

The Iranian regime continues to threaten Israel with a strong response after one of its top generals, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, along with his deputy and several other high-ranking Iranian military officials, was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike on a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus on Monday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani threatened an appropriate response without elaborating.

“The Islamic Republic reserves its rights to take reciprocal actions and will decide the type of reaction and punishment of the aggressor,” Kanaani stated.

Zahedi was a top commander in the Iranian elite Quds Force and is the highest-ranking Iranian official to be eliminated since the U.S. killing of the late Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad in 2020.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei openly threatened Israel.

“The evil Zionist regime will be punished by our courageous men. We will make them regret this and other crimes like it, by God's power and strength,” Khamenei said.

Hezi Simantov, an Arab Affairs commentator for Israel's Channe 13 news, described Zahedi's significance to the regime's broad regional terror proxy strategy, indicating that he was Iran's point man in its relations with the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah.

“A very senior member of the Iranian hierarchy, he managed the entire operation of smuggling weapons from Syria to Lebanon. He was a very senior person who can be said to have given Israel a lot of headaches in the last twenty years for all his exploits in his involvement in terrorism. This is the most senior Iranian who has been eliminated so far since October 7 on Syrian soil," Simantov stated.

In addition, Zahedi was in charge of various pro-Iran militias in Syria and had supported terror groups in Iraq which posed a threat to U.S. forces and interests in the Middle East.

While Tehran will likely respond to the elimination of its top commander, the Iranian regime’s options are limited.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies (FDD), believes that Iran's reaction will likely be restrained, taking into account its conventional military capabilities, which are relatively weaker than those of Israel and the U.S.

“While the Islamic Republic thrives on conflict, it still can ill afford an outright war. Despite this, prudence dictates that policymakers should not dismiss Iranian threats to respond as cheap talk. Evolving Iranian drone and missile capabilities are lowering the bar for the use of attributable force by Iran,” Taleblu wrote.

The elimination of the top Iranian general comes at a time when Tehran is reportedly focusing on completing its nuclear program while the international community is preoccupied with the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Syrian journalist Majd Kanaan doubts that Iran will dare directly initiate an attack against Israel.

"The Khomeini regime in Iran is experiencing its worst period. It is in unnatural humiliation and cannot respond, even though Israel is only a few hundred kilometers away from Damascus, and they have large forces stationed in the Syrian capital," Kanaan told The Media Line.

"The most we will see is bombing some empty American bases in Iraq. This is all they can do," he added.

Iran typically extends its influence and agenda through its regional proxies, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, which are all supported by Iran and already engaged in conflicts. Israel believes Iran may target softer sites outside of the Middle East, like Israeli embassies or Jewish institutions, and has heightened security at all of its embassies worldwide.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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