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Iranian consulate in Damascus destroyed in air strike

Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus has been destroyed in what Syrian and Iranian media described as an Israeli air strike, a startling apparent escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

A Lebanese security source, speaking to Reuters, said one of the dead was Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Iranian state television said several Iranian diplomats had been killed.

Reuters reporters at the scene in the Mezzeh district of the Syrian capital saw smoke rising from the rubble of a building that had been flattened, and emergency vehicles parked outside.

An Iranian flag hung from a pole in front of the debris. The Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers were both spotted at the scene.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has denounced the strike, insisting the attack will not affect ties between the two allies.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack that targeted the Iranian consulate building in Damascus killing a number of innocent people,” Mekdad said in a statement carried by Syrian official news agency SANA.

Israel, which has repeatedly hit Iranian targets during the six-month war in Gaza, declined to comment on the incident, following its usual practice.

An Israeli military spokesperson said: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

Iran’s Tasnim news agency said five people were killed in the Israeli strike. Syria’s SANA state news agency reported an unspecified number of deaths and injuries.

Since the Iranian-backed Palestinian faction Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October, Israel has ramped up airstrikes in Syria against Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia and Iran’s Guards, both of which support the government of President Basharal-Assad.

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