An adviser for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed in an apparent Israeli strike in Syria on Friday, according to a semi-official Iranian news site, a day after Tehran reportedly pulled senior officers from the country amid a wave of deadly strikes.
The Syrian military says it downed a number of Israeli missiles launched from the Golan Heights that were targeting south Damascus on Friday, state news agency SANA reported citing a military source.
Reports of an explosion in the vicinity of Damascus circulated earlier overnight.
There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.
The report, citing a military source, said the Israeli aircraft launched their missiles from over the Golan Heights at the targets south of the capital at around 4:20 a.m. Syrian air defenses reportedly responded to the Israeli incursion, downing some of the missiles.
SANA said that “material damage” was caused to the sites that were targeted, but did not elaborate further.
Reports circulating on social media named the IRGC member who was said to be killed in the attack as Saeed Alidadi.
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Israel has for years carried out attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in a civil war that started in 2011, but rarely comments on them publicly.
Since the Hamas terror group’s brutal October 7 massacres, which saw some 1,200 killed and over 250 kidnapped, mostly civilians, Israel has escalated its strikes on Iranian-backed terror targets in Syria and has also struck Syrian army air defenses and some Syrian forces.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had scaled back deployment of senior officers in Syria due to the spate of deadly strikes blamed on Israel. Citing five sources familiar with the matter, the report said that Iran would rely more on allied Shiite groups to preserve their sway in Syria.
The alleged Israeli strikes in the past two months have killed more than half a dozen IRGC members, among them one of the Guards’ top intelligence generals.
In a separate report in early January, Reuters quoted sources as saying that Israel was carrying out an unprecedented wave of deadly strikes in Syria targeting cargo trucks, infrastructure, and people involved in Iran’s weapons lifeline to its proxies in the region.
Although Israel has struck Iran-linked targets in Syria for years, including areas where Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has been active, it is now unleashing deadlier, more frequent air raids against Iranian arms transfers and air defense systems in Syria, the sources were quoted as saying.
Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there. So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers and reservists.
There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.
Hezbollah has named 177 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 20 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.