Israeli Precision Strike Kills Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard General in Damascus

On December 25 an Israeli Air Force precision strike on the Syrian capital Damascus killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Seyed Razi Mousavi. “A few hours ago, during the criminal missile attack of the child-killing Zionist regime on Damascus, Brigadier-General Seyed Razi Mousavi, one of the IRGC’s senior military advisers, was martyred,” the corps announced, adding that he had been in the country “for supporting the resistance front in Syria.” This was in reference to a common front formed by range of Iranian-aligned actors including Syria, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Yemeni Ansurullah Coalition and various militia groups across the region. “The usurping and barbaric Zionist regime will pay for this crime,” the statement concluded. General Mousavi was a close associate of the Corps’ most senior officer General Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a CIA drone strike in January 2020. The American operation to assassinate Soleimani reportedly also benefitted from Israeli intelligence support, with Iran having retaliated in that instance with a missile strikes on U.S. military facilities in Iraq which caused over 100 American casualties. Assassination of Iranian senior officers and other persons of strategic significance by Israel and a number of Western states has occurred frequently for some years, primarily in Iraq and Syria but also at times within Iranian borders.

General Mousavi was a longtime advisor for local forces in Syria, where the Revolutionary Guard Corps significantly expanded its presence in the 2010s to support counterinsurgency efforts after Turkey, Israel and a number of Western states supported Islamist militia groups to wage war against the Syrian state. Israel has in turn perceived the expansion of Iranian and allied military activities near its borders to be a major threat to its security. Tensions between the two regional powers have risen considerably since early October, when the outbreak of open hostilities between Israeli forces and Gaza based Palestinian militia groups led to both a full scale Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, and the beginning of frequent skirmishes on the Israeli-Lebanese border with Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia forces. Israel also escalated air strikes on Syria from October, including strikes on its major international airports, with this allegedly intended to prevent the flow of new Iranian supplies to allied forces in the region. The United States and a number of other Western states have intervened significantly in support of Israeli operations in Gaza, including deploying drones and personnel on the ground as well as massively escalating munitions supplies and increasing their overall military presences in the Middle East.