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Iran Says the Deadly Israeli Strike in Damascus Will Not Go Unanswered

WorldMiddle EastIran Says the Deadly Israeli Strike in Damascus Will Not Go Unanswered

Iranian leaders said on Tuesday that Israel’s airstrikes on an Iranian embassy compound in Damascus, Syria, which killed three top Iranian commanders, would not go unanswered. Government supporters took to the streets and called for retaliation against Israel.

The strike, on part of the Iranian Embassy complex in Damascus, killed three generals in Iran’s Quds Force and four other officers, making it one of the deadliest attacks of the yearslong shadow war between Israel and Iran.

In a statement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, vowed that Israel would be “punished by the hands of our brave men.”

President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran said the attack was an “inhumane assault in brazen violation of international law,” in comments reported by Tasnim, a semiofficial news agency. He added that it would not go unanswered, but gave no details of how Iran might respond.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said in an earlier post on the social media site X that Iran had summoned the Swiss ambassador after midnight local time and asked that an important message be delivered to Washington: That as Israel’s ally, the “U.S. must answer” for Israel’s actions. Switzerland acts as the United States’ representative in the absence of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington.

The spokesman for the leadership of Iran’s Parliament, Seyyed Nezamoldin Mousavi, told Iranian state media that “an appropriate response is a national request by the people of Iran.”

In Washington, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, said that “the United States had no involvement in the strike” and “did not know about it ahead of time.”

A U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss private communication, said that the statement had been communicated directly to Iran.

In several cities across Iran, including the capital, Tehran, as well as Tabriz and Isfahan, large crowds gathered waving Palestinian and Iranian flags and demanding revenge “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” chanted the crowds in Iran, fists in the air, warning that if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared jihad against Israel, then “no army can hold us back.”

The strikes in Damascus on Monday coincided with two major holidays in Iran, a religious Shia holiday commemorating the killing of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad and Shia Islam’s founder; and a national day of nature, celebrated by going outdoors on the 13th day of Norouz, the Iranian New Year.

Some opponents of the government gathered in parks in northern Tehran at night to carry on with the nature celebrations, which include picnics, dancing and singing, until security forces dispersed them, videos on social media and on BBC Persian showed.

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss Israel’s attack. Russia, a close ally of Iran, requested the meeting.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Amir Saeid Iravani, said in a letter to the world body that the attack on diplomatic buildings was a violation of international law and the U.N. charter, and was a threat to the peace and stability of the region.

It remained unclear what steps Iran would take in response to Israel’s strikes: Whether it would target Israel directly in a military attack, risking a broader war with Israel and the United States, or if it would continue with its strategy of fighting through its militants it supports in the region.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia backed by Iran, said in a statement, according to Iran state media, that “without doubt, this crime will not go without punishment and revenge against the enemy.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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