Iran, along with several of its armed allies, vowed on Monday to retaliate against Israel. This strong stance comes in the wake of the reported assassination of Seyyed Razi Mousavi, a senior Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, in an airstrike in a Damascus suburb, as reported by Iran's state-run IRNA.
The IRGC has been a crucial element in Iranian military strategy, known for its elite status within the armed forces. Mousavi, as per IRNA, was serving as a military adviser in Syria. His death not only marks a significant loss for Iran but also adds fuel to the already simmering regional tensions, particularly considering Israel's ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.
Statements of Retaliation and Regional Impact
The aftermath of the airstrike has been marked by stern warnings from Iranian officials. The IRGC publicly condemned the act, stating unequivocally that "the Israeli regime would undoubtedly pay the price for this crime." This sentiment was echoed by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who ominously warned, "Tel Aviv should expect a tough countdown”.
Further, the Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, emphasized Iran's right to respond, asserting the nation "reserves the right to take necessary measures and respond to his killing at the right time and in the right place”.Israel has consistently targeted Iran-linked positions in Syria, citing security concerns given the IRGC's significant presence there. The alleged assassination of Mousavi could be seen as a continuation of this policy amidst the heightened regional tensions.
Iran's stance has found resonance with its allies as well. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Iraq-based al-Nujaba Resistance Movement, both Iran-backed entities, have also expressed their intentions to retaliate. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in a separate statement, lauded Mousavi's contributions, highlighting his role in supporting resistance forces in the region.
The United States' Role in the Escalation
The United States has not remained a bystander in these developments. In response to multiple attacks on American and allied forces in the region, Washington has targeted sites used by Iran and its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated, "US military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq”.These strikes were a direct response to an array of attacks against US personnel, including one on Arbil Air Base, which injured three US military personnel.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson confirmed the injuries and President Joe Biden's involvement in directing the response strikes.