Citizens of Israel should be gravely concerned over an impending “crushing response” to the killing of an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in a January 18 airstrike in Syria, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s army said Wednesday.
Major General Mostafa Izadi, the deputy chief of staff for logistics of the Iranian Armed Forces, asserted that recent comments by unnamed Israeli officials, who claimed the Iranian officer had not been the target of the attack, were propaganda and derived from fear.
“They thought that they will get a good result, but now they know that they will receive a crushing response and because fear and fright is intermingled with their nature, they make these remarks,” Izadi said, according to the semi-official FARS news agency.
“Muslim fighters will take a firm and powerful revenge for the blood of these martyrs… and the Zionists’ remarks are only desperate propaganda,” he concluded.
Several Hezbollah and Iranian operatives were killed in a strike on a convoy in Syria on Sunday near the border with Israel. Hezbollah said Jihad Mughniyeh, a commander in the group, was killed along with five others, and Iran confirmed Revolutionary Guards commander Mohamed Allahdadi died in the strike along with five Iranians.
Israel refused to comment on Sunday’s incident, but has ramped up alertness along the northern border, deploying Iron Dome anti-missile batteries and canceling leave for some soldiers in anticipation of a possible retaliatory strike by Hezbollah.
On Tuesday, a host of Iranian officials threatened harsh retaliation against Israel for the Sunday strike. Revolutionary Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Israel should anticipate “devastating lightning,” according to the Iranian Tasnim news agency, and that Iran would widen its support for Muslim fighters in the Middle East “until the final collapse of the Zionist regime.”
Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani accused Israel of being behind “all acts of terror in the Middle East,” particularly in Syria, according to a Press TV report, and said that “necessary measures should be taken in these cases.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also joined the chorus of Iranian officials blaming Israel for the airstrike.
A Twitter feed associated with Khamenei shared photos of him and Mughniyeh.
The post by @khamenei_ir described the pictures as “unseen photos,” which appear to have been taken during a 2013 meeting of Mughniyeh and Khamenei.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 20, 2015
One of the photos shows Khamenei and Mughniyeh embracing and Mughniyeh kissing the supreme leader on the cheek.
According to a semi-official Iranian Fars news report, Soleimani and Mughniyeh, the son of senior Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, had a relationship “deeper than that of a young man with his father’s friend, and those who didn’t know, imagined that he was indeed his son.”
Imad Mughniyeh himself was killed in 2008 in an operation widely thought to have been ordered by Israel.
Ilan Ben Zion and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.