The Latest | Iran promises payback for Israel's apparent strike that killed top generals

PTI | Jerusalem | Updated: 03-04-2024 23:49 IST | Created: 03-04-2024 23:49 IST
The Latest | Iran promises payback for Israel's apparent strike that killed top generals
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Iranian leaders renewed their promises to hit back after an airstrike widely blamed on Israel destroyed Iran's Consulate in Syria, killing 12 people, including two elite Iranian generals. Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday the attack "will not remain without answer." The US is concerned the deadly strike in Damascus could trigger new attacks on American troops by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, said Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the top US Air Force commander for the Middle East.

Iran and its allies — including the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other armed groups in Syria, Iraq and Yemen — have repeatedly traded fire with Israel and the US since the start of Israel's war in Gaza.

By attacking an Iranian diplomatic station, Israel's apparent escalation has raised fears that the devastating six-month war against Hamas could spill over into the entire Mideast region and beyond.

Israel faces growing isolation as international criticism mounts over its killing of six foreign aid workers this week who were helping deliver desperately needed food in Gaza. The United Nations says much of the population in northern Gaza is on the brink of starvation.

Israel's war in Gaza has killed nearly 33,000 Palestinians, the territory's Health Ministry says. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. The war began on October 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Here's the latest: ISRAELI WAR CABINET MEMBER CALLS ON NETANYAHU TO AGREE TO NEW ELECTIONS THIS YEAR JERUSALEM — A member of Israel's three-man war Cabinet has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to new elections later this year.

Benny Gantz made the call in a news conference Wednesday. He says elections are needed to renew the public's faith in the government.

Israeli society has grown increasingly divided in recent months as the war in Gaza has dragged on and the government has struggled to return dozens of hostages held captive by Hamas.

This week, families of the hostages joined a broader protest movement seeking Netanyahu's resignation and new elections. Protests this week near Netanyahu's residence turned violent with clashes between demonstrators and police.

Gantz called for an agreed-upon date for elections in September — two years ahead of schedule. He said that would leave time to continue the war against Hamas "while allowing the citizens to know that we will soon renew the trust between us and prevent a rift among the people." Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls to step down or hold new elections in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war. He says the government must focus on the war.

Since October 7, Netanyahu's popularity has plummeted in opinion polls, trailing far behind Gantz.

Gantz's message Monday does not pose an immediate threat. Netanyahu's governing coalition maintains a parliamentary majority even without Gantz's support.

Netanyahu's Likud Party accused Gantz of playing "petty politics," saying an election campaign would paralyze the country and hurt the war effort.

IRAN VOWS TO RETALIATE FOR ISRAELI STRIKE ON CONSULATE THAT KILLED MILITARY LEADERS TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian leaders on Wednesday reiterated their calls for revenge after an apparent Israeli airstrike killed five members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard this week, state media reported.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will continue to fail on the battlefield in Gaza, and its defeats will bring it closer to collapse.

"Desperate efforts like the act they committed in Syria will not save them from defeat and they will be slapped for the action, too," Khamenei was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency, during a meeting with officials Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said the attack "will not remain without answer." The airstrike Monday was widely blamed on Israel, and destroyed Iran's Consulate in Damascus. It's not clear if and when Iran would respond, but any retaliation from Tehran would risk a dangerous confrontation with Israel and the US.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said the attack ''will not remain without answer." In Syria, a funeral was held for the slain Revolutionary Guard members at a holy Shiite shrine in Damascus, media reported. The main funeral ceremony will be held Friday in Iran during an annual pro-Palestine rally, called al-Quds day.

The deadliest strike on an Iranian diplomatic site in decades appears to signify an escalation of Israel's targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria. Those Israeli strikes have intensified since Hamas militants — who are supported by Iran — attacked Israel on October 7.

Under the 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic immunity, the premises of a diplomatic mission are inviolable.

US MILITARY IS CONCERNED' ABOUT IRAN'S POSSIBLE RETALIATION FOR ISRAELI STRIKE ON CONSULATE WASHINGTON — The US is concerned that the airstrike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed Iran's Consulate in Damascus could trigger new attacks on American troops by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the top US Air Force commander for the Middle East said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich said Iran's assertion that the US bears responsibility for Israeli actions could bring an end to the pause in militia attacks on US forces that has lasted since early February. He said he sees no specific threat to US troops right now, but "I am concerned because of the Iranian rhetoric talking about the US, that there could be a risk to our forces" Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that the US assessed that the airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus was done by Israel. The strike killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Grynkewich told reporters the US is watching and listening carefully to what Iran is saying and doing to evaluate how Tehran might respond. Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria were launching repeated attacks on US forces at bases in those countries late last year, and in late January killed three US service members and injured dozens more at a base in Jordan.

In retaliation, the US launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria, including command and control headquarters, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities connected to the militias or the IRGC's Quds Force, the Guard's expeditionary unit that handles Tehran's relationship with and arming of regional militias. There have been no attacks on US troops in the region since that response.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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