Pentagon says Israel conducted strike against Iran in Syria

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(SYRIA) — The Pentagon said Tuesday that Israel was behind the airstrike in Damascus, Syria, that killed seven people, including a top Iranian commander, even though Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, told reporters Tuesday that Israel was behind the airstrike in Damascus has led Iran to say it would retaliate.

“The U.S. did not conduct a strike in Damascus,” said Singh. “I would refer you to the Israelis to speak to their strike.”

Singh later said that the U.S. assessed that Israel was behind the airstrike and that several leaders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been killed in the airstrike.

“Our initial assessment right now is that it was a few top IRGC leaders, we haven’t been able to independently confirm identities, but that is our initial assessment right now,” she said.

Singh added that “we were not notified by the Israelis about their strike or the intended target of their strike in Damascus.”

The building that was struck in Damascus has been described as Iran’s consulate in Syria and was located near the diplomatic facilities of other countries in Syria.

“I don’t have a lot of details on what type of building that was, but no, we don’t support attacks on diplomatic facilities,” she added.

Israel has not confirmed that it was behind the attack nor has it denied that it was responsible for the strike that Iran said killed Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, his deputy Gen. Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other IRGC officers.

That is typical for Israel which is believed to have launched dozens if not hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria in recent years.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge on Israel on Tuesday for the airstrike.

“The evil regime (will be punished by the hands of our brave men,” said Khameini in a statement posted on his official website. “We will make them regret this crime and similar ones, God willing.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, has also said that “the United States should be answerable” for the attack.

“Let me make it clear, we had nothing to do with the strike in Damascus,” John Kirby, the White House National Security Communications Advisor told reporters at the White House. “So, the comments by the Iranian foreign minister that somehow we’re to blame is just nonsense. We had nothing to do with it.”

Singh noted that the United States had contacted Iran to tell them “We were not responsible for this airstrike.”

She explained the United States had reached out to Iran to prevent a miscalculation given the tensions in the region.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have targeted U.S. facilities in both of those countries after Israel invaded Gaza following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack in Israel.

The last of those attacks occurred on Feb. 4, although a drone was shot down near the U.S. base at At Tanf Garrison on Monday. The base does not appear to have been targeted.

“I think that tensions being high in the region, we wanted to make it very clear in in private channels that the US had no involvement in the strike in Damascus,” she said. “And we did that.”

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