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Iran calls for UN Security Council meeting after Israeli airstrike destroys Iranian consulate in Syria


People gather near a damaged site, hauling a destroyed vehicle away, after what Syrian and Iranian media described as an Israeli air strike on Iran's consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus April 1, 2024.
People gather near a damaged site, hauling a destroyed vehicle away, after what Syrian and Iranian media described as an Israeli air strike on Iran's consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus April 1, 2024.

Iran says it will seek revenge for an Israeli airstrike that destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, and killed at least seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including three top-level commanders.

Speaking out Tuesday, a day after the strike, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi chastised Israel for the attack and said it would not go unanswered.

"The whole world knows that the Zionist regime does not adhere to any of the human principles, basic rights, international covenants and contracts," Raisi said during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Israel has not formally claimed responsibility for the strike, which set off alarms in Washington and prompted calls from the Pentagon to Tehran.

“We've made it very clear in private channels to Iran that we were not responsible for the strike that happened in Damascus,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters Tuesday.

“Tensions being high in the region, we wanted to make it very clear in private channels that the U.S. had no involvement,” she said, declining to share additional details of the conversations.

Singh did say, however, that the U.S. believes Israel was responsible for the attack, adding that an initial, independent U.S. assessment concluded “a few top IRGC leaders” were killed.

As for the building that was targeted in the strike, Singh said she did not have many details but that as a rule, “we don't support attacks on diplomatic facilities.”

Both the Pentagon and the White House said the U.S. had no warning from Israel about the strike and that Washington remains focused on ensuring the safety of some 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 more in Syria. The troops are tasked with helping prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State terror group.

The U.S. has accused Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria of carrying out almost 170 drone and rocket attacks on U.S. forces dating from October of last year, though there have been no attacks over the past month.

“We will always take whatever we need to do to protect our forces,” Singh said.

Iran earlier asked the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the airstrike consulate in Damascus.

Iran was not persuaded.

"The United States is responsible for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime," said Iran's deputy U.N. Ambassador Zahra Ershadi, accusing the U.S. of trying to destabilize Syria and the region.

"We will not hesitate to defend our personnel,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood responded, “and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of the situation — again, an attack in which we had no involvement or advanced knowledge — to resume their attacks on U.S. personnel.”

During the Security Council meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the U.N.’s call for a humanitarian cease-fire.

“When I hear the words ‘human security,’ I think about the 2 million humans in Gaza who have no security at all, desperately seeking protection from hunger, disease, and relentless Israeli bombardment,” Guterres said.

Israel has carried out several hundred strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years. But the number has escalated since the beginning of the nearly six-month Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza and periodic clashes between Israel’s military and Hezbollah fighters along the Lebanon-Israel border.

An Israeli airstrike in a Damascus neighborhood in December killed a longtime adviser of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Syria, Seyed Razi Mousavi.

A similar strike on a building in Damascus in January killed at least five Iranian advisers. Last week, airstrikes over the strategic eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour near the Iraqi border killed an Iranian adviser.

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report. Some material came from The Associated Press and Reuters.