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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Iran inaugurates new consulate in Damascus amidst regional turmoil

Both Tehran and Damascus have pointed fingers at Israel for the raid, although Israel has not officially commented on the matter.

Amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, inaugurated the country’s new consulate in Damascus on Monday. This move comes in the aftermath of a deadly strike, blamed on Israel, that destroyed the former premises, exacerbating regional tensions.

The Background

Last Monday’s air strike on the Iranian embassy’s consular section in Damascus resulted in the tragic loss of seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members, including two generals. The strike occurred amidst ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas, which initially began with an attack by Hamas on Israel.

Read More: Israel ready for ‘any scenario’ with Iran – defense minister

Blaming Israel

Both Tehran and Damascus have pointed fingers at Israel for the raid, although Israel has not officially commented on the matter. The strike, occurring in the upscale Mazzeh area, targeted the former consulate building, situated alongside other foreign embassies and UN offices.

Inauguration Ceremony

The inauguration of the new consulate section took place in the presence of Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. The AFP correspondent noted that the new consulate is located close to the site of the previous building destroyed in the strike.

Diplomatic Meetings

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit also included meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other officials. Discussions primarily focused on the repercussions of the recent strike, indicating the gravity of the situation.

Regional Tour and Calls for De-escalation

Before arriving in Damascus, Iran’s Foreign Minister commenced a regional tour starting with Oman. Oman’s foreign minister advocated for de-escalation amidst the rising tensions in the region.

Warning of Further Escalation

An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader issued a warning, stating that Israeli embassies were “no longer safe” following the attack in Damascus. Analysts interpreted the strike as part of Israel’s broader campaign against Iran and its regional proxies, raising concerns about the potential for a wider conflict.

Casualties and Targeted Groups

The strike resulted in the loss of 16 lives, including Iranians, Syrians, and a member of Hezbollah. Among the casualties were two senior commanders from the IRGC’s Quds Force, indicating the severity of the attack.

Read More: US ‘very concerned’ over potential Israel-Iran war – White House

Israel’s frequent air strikes in Syria over the past 13 years have targeted Iran-backed forces, Hezbollah, as well as Syrian military positions and weapons depots. The intensity of these strikes has increased in tandem with the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas.