The Iranian general who was killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike near the border with the Golan Heights on Sunday was a ballistic missile expert who was visiting Syria as part of a project to set up a missile base near the border with Israel, according to a Tuesday report.
General Mohammed Ali Allahdadi, whom Tehran acknowledged was killed in an Israeli missile strike near the Syrian city of Quneitra along with several Hezbollah fighters, was tasked with building four new Hezbollah missile bases near the Israel-Syria frontier, the London-based Times reported.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps claimed that Allahdadi was ostensibly dispatched to Syria “provide military advice to Syrian government and nation in their war with Takfirist and Salafist (radical Sunni) terrorists, and provided valuable analysis and advice in neutralizing the plots of this Zionist-backed conspiracy in the Syrian soil.”
The report emerged as Israel’s security cabinet was set to convene Tuesday to discuss a potential escalation of violence on the northern border with Lebanon following Sunday’s strike.
Defense officials said the country is on high alert for possible attacks from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah following.
Officials said the country had boosted deployment of its Iron Dome missile defense system along its border with Lebanon, and has increased surveillance activities in the area.
Security details in northern communities were reportedly put on high alert.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps website on Monday said that Allahdadi and “a number of fighters and Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) forces were attacked by the Zionist regime’s helicopters.”
Among the Hezbollah members killed was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh and head of the Shiite group’s operations in the Syrian Golan Heights, and Mohammed Issa, another senior Hezbollah officer.
Israel has refused to say whether it carried out the attack. Initial Hebrew-language reports after the strike indicated the convoy hit may have been preparing an attack on Israel when it was struck.
A Hezbollah source said Monday that a reprisal attack would be severe, but not all-out war.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is expected to deliver a speech Sunday, Lebanese news outlet Naharnet reported Tuesday. The speech had been scheduled for next month to mark the death of Imad Mughniyeh in 2008 in an alleged Israeli operation.
Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke with Nasrallah by telephone and offered his condolences for the deaths of the Hezbollah fighters, according to a report in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai. There was no indication from the report as to whether the two discussed possible retribution against Israel for the alleged attack on Syrian soil.
Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki also sent a letter of condolence to Nasrallah, saying “the Zionist criminals and vampires must know that the pure blood of the martyrs, like Jihad Imad Mughniyeh, will augment the resistance in face of oppression, corruption and tyranny,” according to Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet al-Manar.
Former Shin Bet chief and Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that Hezbollah likely suffered a serious blow with the death of its commanders in the airstrike on Sunday.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a very emotional element for Hezbollah because of what they’re calling the death of ‘the prince,'” Peri said. “The Iranians who direct Hezbollah, and Hezbollah itself, are also doing things that the political echelon needs to examine,” he said, without elaborating.
“I’m confident that these things are being evaluated,” said Peri, who resigned from his post as science and technology minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in December.
Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and would-be Labor defense minister told Israel Radio that Hezbollah would likely prefer to exact vengeance against Israel as far as possible from the border with Lebanon, and that its response would not necessarily be immediate.