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Iran vows revenge after alleged Israeli strike kills first Iranian in Syria since escalation in April

Senior IRGC officer killed in northern Syria's Aleppo

Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Photo: Fars News)

Israel “should await Iran’s response” the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened on Wednesday, after an alleged Israeli strike killed a high-ranking IRGC member in Syria for the first time since the death of a senior IRGC general in Syria in April.

IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami offered his condolences on the death of Saeed Abyar, who was killed in an airstrike near the city of Aleppo in northern Syria on Tuesday while on “an advisory mission,” according to the Iranian regime-affiliated news outlet Tasnim.

The New York Times reported that Abyar was part of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force and had been stationed in Syria since 2012.

The airstrike targeted a warehouse in Hayyan, west of Aleppo, and killed 16 operatives of Iranian proxy groups, “including Syrian and foreign fighters,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“After midnight… the Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the southeast of Aleppo, targeting some positions” the Syrian defense ministry stated, adding that the strikes resulted in “martyrs” and “some material damage.”

The strikes targeted a warehouse complex located near Road 214 leading from Aleppo north toward the Turkish border, according to the Alma Research Center.

“The city of Aleppo and its surroundings, where a Syrian Shiite minority also lives, constitute the northern geographical anchor of the Shiite axis establishment in Syria,” according to Alma's report.

“Some of the Shia Syrians belong to a militia called Hezbollah-Syria, which is actually a proxy of the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards.  Around the city of Aleppo, there is infrastructure for the production, development and storage of weapons, some of which have already been attacked in the past.”

This was the first reported Israeli strike targeting Iranians in Syria since early April, when Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi was killed in an airstrike near the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

Two weeks later, Iran launched over 300 ballistic, cruise missiles and drones at Israel, most of which were intercepted.

Israel has been targeting the buildup of Iranian forces and their proxies in Syria for the past several years, mostly striking targets in southern Syria or the Syrian coast.

Strikes in eastern or northern Syria, like the one in Aleppo, have been relatively rare in the past.

Israel usually doesn’t take responsibility or comment on these strikes, which are sometimes also carried out by U.S. forces in the area.

The goal of the strikes is often to disrupt weapon transfers carried out by the Iranian forces across Syrian territory. Last week, another unattributed airstrike targeted a truck or a convoy about 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) east of the city of Homs, also in northern Syria.

According to Alma, the truck was driving on one of the main routes of Iran’s weapon transfer network, starting at the geographical anchor Albukamal, near the Iraqi border, through Palmyra to Homs and from there to Lebanon.

In early May, Alma reported that another weapons shipment containing suicide drones was smuggled into Syria through an illegal border crossing east of Albukamal, while under the protection of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy militia in Iraq.

The border crossing used in the transfer is run by the Syrian 4th Division, commanded by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother, Maher.

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

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