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With its latest assassination, Israel is testing Iran

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It is a dangerous game in a region already at war

It is hard to say which was more significant: who was killed, or where. On April 1st a suspected Israeli air strike flattened a building at the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus. The blast killed seven people, among them several high-ranking Iranian officers. It was a serious escalation in the long shadow war between Israel and Iran, hitting a target that should have been off-limits under international norms. The question now is how Iran will choose to respond—and whether it does so by attacking Israel itself or its main foreign backer, America.

The strike killed General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander of the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (irgc). He had served for years as the group’s head of operations in Syria and Lebanon; Arab and Israeli analysts say he was close to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia militia and political party. His deputy and five other irgc officers were also killed in the blast. The general was the highest-ranking Iranian commander to be assassinated since America killed Qassem Suleimani with a drone strike in 2020.

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