International Reactions to Israeli Strike on Iranian Embassy, Damascus Syria

As this publication reported on yesterday, an unofficially attributed Israeli airstrike against the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria resulted in the death of seven persons including several Iranian diplomats and most notably, IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi. Further on in the afternoon, several other high ranking IRGC members were reported killed including Deputy of General Zahedi, Sardar Haji Rahimi and Head of IRGC General Staff in Syria and Lebanon, Hossein Amirullah.

The first foreign official to weigh in on the 1000 EST attack was Iranian Ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari who told Iranian media that “we will respond” by 1200 EST. Hamas quickly issued a statement by 1400 EST. That statement reads below:

“We in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) condemn in the strongest terms the Zionist terrorist aggression that targeted the Iranian consulate building in the Syrian capital, Damascus, this afternoon and led to the martyrdom of a number of Iranian diplomats and advisors. We consider it a blatant violation of international law, an assault on the sovereignty of both Syria and Iran, and a dangerous Zionist escalation. We express our full solidarity with Iran and Syria in the face of this brutal Nazi aggression, and we call on the UN Security Council to take effective action to deter the occupation and its criminal leaders, by stopping their aggression against the Gaza Strip and the region, which adds fuel to the fire and undermines international stability and security.”

Syria’s Allies Rally

The Russian Foreign Ministry was then the first foreign government uninvolved in the attack to make a statement. At approximately 1530 EST the Russian statement “strongly condemned” the strike in an official message on their government portal. The Russian Federation then called for a UN Security Council meeting today by 2200L to address the attack.

By 1630 EST, Ashab al-Kahf issued a statement offering condolences to the families of the Iranian diplomats that  were killed. Ashab al-Kahf is an Iraqi Shia extremist militant group that has been described as a proxy formation of Iran. The group first emerged in August 2019, but increased in activity following the American removal of Soleimani. It is most active in Iraq against US bases and the embassy via indirect fires.

According to Axios, the United States, through official channels reportedly told the Iranian government that it “had no involvement” or foreknowledge of the strike, but this has not been confirmed by an official statement from the United States government.

Iranian Information Operation Begins

By 0100 EST on April 2nd, 2024, the Iranian government statements began in earnest. The Iranian Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council was reportedly convened by President Raisi to discuss response options. The Iranian Foreign Ministry also simultaneously made statements through spokesperson Kanaani. They said: “Iran reserves the rights to take countermeasures, decide on type of reaction and punishment”. Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollanhian posted on his X account that the Iranian Foreign Ministry informed the United States, through the Swiss government that Washington “must be held accountable”.

This was followed by an announcement at 0220 EST from Iranian Parliament Speaker Ghalibaf, who said that Israel will be “severely punished.” By 0230 EST, Iranian President Raisi made his first public statement on the attack by telling press that this “Israeli crime” will not go unpunished. Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Shamkhani also said that it does not matter if the United States knew beforehand of the Israeli strike and that they are still responsible.

The People’s Republic of China was the second foreign government after the Russian Federation to officially condemned the attack. Their statement as a level-headed moderator followed along historical norms with issues in the Middle East. Their statement reads below through spokesman Wang:

“China condemns the attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria. The security of diplomatic institutions is inviolable, and Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity should be respected. At a time when the situation in the Middle East is volatile, we oppose any act that leads to an escalation of tensions.”

By 0530 EST this morning, the Russian government doubled down on its condemnation through its embassy in Iran. That statement reads below:

“This step is not only a gross violation of all the foundations of international law, including the Vienna Conventions, which guarantee the inviolability of diplomatic and consular facilities, but also can provoke further escalation in the Middle East.”

By 0530 EST, the Iranian government made the most significant statement on the attack through Supreme Leader Khamenei who said, “Israel will regret this crime and others like it… Israel will be punished by the hands of our brave men.”

 

By 0625 EST, the Israeli government made its first official statement, although not directly linked to the attack. Defense Minister Gallant told his social media following that “we make it clear to our enemies everywhere in the Middle East that any operation against us will be high.”

As of this publication, the Russian Foreign Ministry and other government entities are still actively making statements on the strike. Russian Presidental Spokesperson Peskov and Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Naryshkin have condemned the strike, with Naryshkin going as far to categorize this as an “act of terrorism”.

In summary, the usual players have come to the defense of Iran: Russia and China. Israel has not officially acknowledged the strike as is standard practice with operations in Syria, especially against Iranian paramilitary forces. While this strike was on an Iranian diplomatic compound, the strike was aimed at paramilitary forces that are actively aiding Hezbollah and Hamas. However, this is a significant response from the Iranian government, especially from the Supreme Leader. This level of response mirrors the response to the U.S. removal of Soleimani in 2020. However, it is important to note that this strike is more severe than the 2020 removal of Soleimani in Iraq since it did technically occur on Iranian soil (its embassy in Syria). We expect additional condemnations to roll in today from foreign governments hostile or even neutral to Israel.

Tessaron
Tessaron
United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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