Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Friday one of its officers stationed in Syria was killed in an Israeli strike near Damascus earlier in the day.
“At dawn today, Friday, Milad Heydari, one of the IRGC’s military advisors in Syria, was martyred in a criminal attack by the Zionist regime near Damascus,” the IRGC said in a statement carried by state media.
The IRGC has vowed to retaliate for Heydari’s death, saying: “Undoubtedly, the fake and criminal Zionist regime will receive a response for this crime.”
According to a military source cited by Syria’s state news agency SANA, an aerial attack was carried out by the Israel at 00:17 local time (21:17 GMT) using multiple missiles fired from the occupied Syrian Golan, with one of the positions near Damascus being the target.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a war monitoring organization based in Britain, said the airstrikes were aimed at locations in southwest Damascus that were occupied by both the Syrian military and groups that are aligned with Iran.
Iran, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been heavily involved in Syria since the beginning of the conflict there in 2011, sending thousands of Iranian and foreign fighters to back the Syrian regime.
Israel has not commented on the attack, as is typical for the country.
Iran tends to avoid publicly assigning blame to Israel for the deaths of its military personnel in Syria, as doing so would put pressure on Tehran to retaliate.
“With Iran’s regime coming out so publicly and attributing the death of IRGC’s Milad Heydari to the Israeli strike in Syria overnight, this likely means the regime is setting the table to retaliate. One option is against US forces as has been done before,” Iran analyst Jason Brodsky said on Twitter.
“If it didn’t want to retaliate, there would have likely been a vague announcement of the death of an IRGC officer in Syria carrying out his duties.”
The air strike marks the sixth attack by Israel in Syria in March, according to OSDH.
Israel has been conducting these attacks for years, targeting what it says are Iran-linked targets in Syria.
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iraqi paramilitary groups, both backed by Iran, have established positions throughout Syria.
The latest attack follows a strike on Thursday night that resulted in two Syrian soldiers being injured, according to state media.