Iran's retaliation risks against Israel

April 3, 2024 4:53 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Iran faces a dilemma following an Israeli attack on its embassy in Syria: how to retaliate without sparking a wider conflict that Middle East analysts said Tehran doesn’t appear to want.

Monday’s strike, which killed two Iranian generals and five military advisers at Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus, comes as Israel accelerates a long-running campaign against Iran and the armed groups it backs. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed revenge.

Tehran has options. It could unleash its proxies on U.S. forces, use them to strike Israel directly or ramp up its nuclear program, which the United States and its allies have long sought to rein in.

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, U.S. officials said they were watching closely to see if, as in the past, Iran-backed proxies would attack U.S. troops based in Iraq and Syria after Monday’s Israeli strike.

Such Iranian attacks ceased in February after Washington retaliated for the killing of three U.S. troops in Jordan with dozens of air strikes on targets in Syria and Iraq linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and militias it backs.

U.S. officials said they had not yet picked up intelligence suggesting Iran-backed groups were looking to attack U.S. troops following Monday’s attack, which Iranian media said killed IRGC members including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a brigadier general.

The United States on Tuesday bluntly warned Tehran against attacking its forces.