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The strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria could be the spark that ignites the Middle East


Israel’s attack signalled a shift in its strategy towards Iran. Tehran’s response and the US promise of ‘ironclad’ support for Israel risks escalation of this transnational conflict.

The suspected Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Damascus on 1 April marks an unprecedented escalation by Israel against Iran in Syria. The killing of Iran’s top soldier, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, among other Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders, is the clearest signal yet of Israel’s determination to shift the conflict’s rules of engagement – moving beyond simply preventing arms supplies to Hezbollah or pushing Iranian-backed groups away from its border, to directly eliminating Iranian leadership in Syria.

There is a real risk that Iranian-backed groups will intensify their targeting of US forces and Israel in response to this latest attack, leading to heightened escalations in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and possibly Jordan. This, along with US President Biden’s promise of ‘ironclad’ support for Israel in the case of a reprisal attack, presents a major risk of even greater escalation.

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