An Israeli airstrike killed an Iranian general in the disputed Golan Heights along Syria’s border with Israel Sunday, along with six members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.
Iranian outlets confirmed Monday that Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died in the attack, which took place in the Syrian-controlled Quneitra province. Iran’s English-language PressTV said Allahdadi was in Syria “to provide consultation and help the Syrian government and nation counter the Takfiri and Salafi terrorists,” as well as to “stop and thwart the Israeli regime’s plots and crimes.”
Iran has long been an ally of the Syrian government. Members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard (IRG), an autonomous military branch, openly fight within Syria’s borders in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Allahdadi was a senior commander in the IRG. (RELATED: ISIS Kills Iranian General In Central Iraq)
The attack also killed 20-year-old Jihad Mughniyeh, a low-ranking Hezbollah fighter whose father, Imad Mughniyeh, was a key operative in the Iranian-funded Lebanese organization for decades before dying in a Damascus car bombing in 2008. The junior Mughniyeh was buried on Monday after an elaborate funeral procession through Hezbollah-controlled south Beirut. Despite his youth, he had often been photographed by Iranian media alongside top military and political leaders.
The attack was carried out by missiles fired from a helicopter at a convoy of cars containing Allahdadi, Mughniyeh and the others. The particular village where the airstrike took place, Mazraat Amal, has been a center for Hezbollah operations in aiding Syria’s fight against the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
Iran seized the opportunity to insinuate that Israel was abetting jihadists, including Jabhat al-Nusra, with the IRG statement on Allahdadi’s death claiming that “the terrorist plot of the ISIL and Takfiri groups has been hatched in line with policies of the arrogant and Zionist system.”
And Hezbollah threatened retaliation, with representatives quoted as saying the attack “will have a painful and unexpected response, but it can be assumed that it will be controlled” to avoid escalating hostilities with Israel into a “hot war.”
The airstrike comes at a delicate time in Iran’s relations with the United States and its allies. While the U.S. continues to seek a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and Congress threatens a new round of sanctions, the country has also been aggressive in combating the Islamic State terror group in Iraq at a time when American policy has been cautious and limited.
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