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Israeli Strike in Damascus Kills Guards’ Syria Spy Chief, 12 Others

A strike on Damascus targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Syria spy chief and blamed on Israel killed 13 people, a war monitor said Sunday in an updated toll.

“The death toll has risen to 13,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of Saturday’s strike, revising earlier death tolls.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirmed it lost five members in the strike it blamed on Israel, its regional arch-foe.

The British-based monitor, which has a vast network of sources inside Syria, said the deaths include “five Iranians, including three IRGC leaders, four Syrians working with the Iranians, one Syrian civilian, two Lebanese, and one Iraqi national.”

Iranian news agency Mehr, quoting an anonymous informed source, said “the Revolutionary Guards’ Syria intel chief” and his deputy were among those “martyred in the attack on Syria by Israel.”

The Syrian Observatory said the building targeted belonged to the IRGC and that the area is known to be a high-security zone home to leaders of the IRGC and pro-Iran Palestinian factions.

Damascus’s upscale Mazzeh neighbourhood is also home to a United Nations headquarters and embassies.

The strike on Saturday was the second high-profile targeted assassination in Syria in less than a month.

In December, an air strike also blamed on Israel killed a senior Iranian general in Syria.

Razi Moussavi was the most senior commander of the Quds Force to be killed outside Iran since a January 2020 US drone strike in Baghdad killed IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani.

During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions.

But such attacks have intensified since the war between Israel and Hamas, which like Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement is an ally of Iran, began on October 7.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad‘s government, to expand its presence there.

Since 2011, Syria has endured a bloody conflict that has claimed more than half a million lives and displaced several million people.

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