Iran’s Supreme Leader Threatens to Punish Israel After Syria Airstrike

Latest Developments

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on April 2 threatened to retaliate against Israel for killing Iranian military leaders in an airstrike in Damascus. In a statement on his website, Khamenei claimed that “Israel will be punished” for the April 1 attack, which eliminated Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Mohammad Hadi Haji, who were brigadier generals for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with five other IRGC members. “The evil Zionist regime will be punished at the hands of our brave men. We will make them regret this crime and the other ones,” Khamenei said. Likewise, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi threatened that the attack would receive a fitting answer, according to Iran’s state-run Fars News. Iran’s speaker of parliament, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, also condemned the attack and vowed a “severe punishment” for Israel.

Expert Analysis

“While the Islamic Republic thrives on conflict, it still can ill afford an outright war. Despite this, prudence dictates that policymakers should not dismiss Iranian threats to respond as cheap talk. Evolving Iranian drone and missile capabilities are lowering the bar for the use of attributable force by Iran.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“The Iranian regime continues to threaten Israel with revenge in the wake of an airstrike that killed a senior IRGC commander in Syria. The IRGC’s presence in Syria and its trafficking of dangerous munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon presents a major threat to Israel and the region. Iran’s threats to Israel must be deterred, and Tehran must stop using Iraq and Syria as conduits for weapons smuggling.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Israeli Defense Minister Prepares for Potential Conflict in North

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is “considering how to prepare Israel for war in the north,” Israel’s Ynet reported on April 2. Gallant is seeking to “launch [a] public campaign to explain what Israelis can expect in the case of a full-scale war with Hezbollah,” the report notes. However, “the Defense Minister was reportedly concerned not only of the Israeli public’s response to the increasing probability of war, but also of the reaction of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to such a public awareness campaign,” Ynet reported.

“We are currently in a multi-front war — we see evidence of this every day, including over the last few days,” Gallant said on April 2. “We operate everywhere, every day, in order to prevent our enemies from gaining strength and in order to make it clear to anyone who threatens us — all over the Middle East — that the price for such action will be a big one.”

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