2nd Iran Guard Corps member dies after Syria strikes said tied to Megiddo bombing

Iran says Meqdad Meqdani succumbs to wounds from Friday strike; 3 alleged Israeli strikes in 4 nights may indicate Jerusalem believes Tehran behind last month’s cross-border attack

Screen capture from a video showing an alleged Israeli strike on Damascus, Syria March 31, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter)
Screen capture from a video showing an alleged Israeli strike on Damascus, Syria March 31, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter)

Iran said Sunday that a second member of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had died of injuries sustained in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria early Friday.

“Meqdad Meqdani was wounded during the Zionist attack on Friday dawn and was martyred,” the semi-official Mehr news agency said, adding that he had been a military adviser to the IRGC, according to the Reuters news agency. A second IRGC adviser, Milad Heydari, was also killed in the strike.

The IRGC has threatened to avenge the incident, saying: “The Zionist regime will undoubtedly receive a response to this crime.”

Meanwhile, some Israeli media outlets were reporting unattributed assessments that the string of airstrikes in Syria — three in four consecutive nights — could be linked to last month’s suspected Hezbollah terror bombing near Megiddo in northern Israel, which Jerusalem believes was carried out by a terrorist who crossed the Lebanon border fence using a ladder. One man was seriously wounded in the attack.

While many details of the investigation into Megiddo bombing are barred from publication, the Haaretz news site cited a speculation that the series of airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria could indicate that the IRGC was involved in the latest security incidents.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes near the city of Homs late Saturday, injuring five soldiers, according to Syria’s state-run media outlet. The alleged operation came after airstrikes attributed to Israel were carried out in the Syrian capital Damascus shortly after midnight in the early hours of Friday, and also on the night before that.

Western intelligence sources told Reuters that Saturday’s strikes hit a series of air bases in central Syria where Iranian personnel are based.

The two sources said the strikes targeted the Tiyas air base, also known as T-4, located near the ancient city of Palmyra in the Homs Governorate, and the al-Dabaa airport near the city of al-Qusayr also in the Homs Governorate, near the Lebanese border. It is an area known for the presence of members of Lebanese Hezbollah, a major terror organization backed by Iran, and other pro-Iranian groups and militias.

T-4 is believed to be one of two major airports — the other being Damascus International Airport — where Iranian cargo airlines carrying large weapons set for Lebanon often land. The weaponry is then believed to be stored in warehouses in the area before being trucked to Lebanon.

Saturday’s airstrikes came a day after Syrian media said Israeli airstrikes hit in the capital Damascus for the second time this week. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those strikes targeted an arms depots for government forces and Iran-backed groups just south of Damascus.

On the previous night, SANA said that the IAF targeted sites in Damascus, wounding two soldiers and causing material damage.

The conditions of the two soldiers were not immediately clear. In recent years, numerous Syrian soldiers serving in air defense units have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

As a general rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but it has acknowledged conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Thursday and Friday’s alleged airstrikes came after two attacks in recent weeks against the Aleppo International Airport, also attributed to Israel. Those attacks temporarily closed the airport’s runway.

One of the strikes last week also targeted an underground munitions depot at the adjacent Nairab military airport, according to two unnamed “regional intelligence sources” who spoke to the Reuters news agency. The sources said the site was used to store missile-guided systems that had been delivered by Iranian cargo flights.

Also this month, Israel carried out a rare daytime strike against targets in northwestern Syria, injuring three soldiers and causing damage, SANA said.

Emanuel Fabian and AP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: