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An Israeli airstrike in Syria kills a high-ranking Iranian general

BEIRUT — An Israeli airstrike Monday in a Damascus neighborhood killed a high-ranking Iranian general, Iranian state media said.

The killing of Seyed Razi Mousavi, a long-time adviser of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Syria, comes as clashes along the Lebanon-Israel border between Hezbollah and Israel continue to intensify with fears of the Israel-Hamas war sparking a regional spillover with Iran-backed groups. The Israeli strikes killed two other generals earlier this month in Syria.

Israel struck the Sayida Zeinab neighborhood, located near a Shiite Muslim shrine, Iran's official news agency IRNA and Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. IRNA described Mousavi as a close companion of Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force who was slain in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.

Neither the Israeli military nor Syrian state media immediately issued a statement about the attack.

Though IRNA didn't provide other details about the attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli military targeted Mousavi after he entered a farm in the area, which allegedly was one of several offices for Hezbollah. The Lebanese militant group, alongside Iran and Russia, has played a key military role in keeping President Bashar Assad's government in power throughout the Syrian conflict.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years.

It doesn't usually acknowledge its airstrikes on Syria. But when it does, it says it's targeting Iranian-backed groups there that have backed Assad's government.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press