Iran supreme leader prays over bodies of slain Guards

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays over the coffins of the seven Revolutionary Guards killed in a strike blamed on Israel in Syria (-)
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays over the coffins of the seven Revolutionary Guards killed in a strike blamed on Israel in Syria (-)
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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mourned Thursday the seven Revolutionary Guards killed in a strike in Syria, which he has blamed on Israel and has vowed to "punish", state media reported.

The Guards, including two generals, were killed in the air strike on Monday which levelled the Iranian embassy's consular annex in Damascus.

Israel has not commented on the strike but analysts saw it as an escalation of its campaign against Iran and its regional proxies that runs the risk of triggering a wider war.

Khamenei, flanked by top military brass, took part in a ceremony in the capital Tehran during which he led prayers for the dead, the official IRNA news agency said.

The bodies of the Guards were repatriated overnight, the ISNA news agency reported.

A funeral ceremony will take place in Tehran on Friday, coinciding with the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations, when Iran and its allies hold marches in support of the Palestinians.

Iran has said that among the dead were two brigadier generals from the Guards' foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi and Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

A Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Zahedi was the Quds Force commander for Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

Iran has vowed to retaliate. Israel "will be punished at the hands of our brave men. We will make them regret this crime and the other ones", Khamenei said on Tuesday.

The following day he said the strike was a "desperate" effort by Israel that "will not save them from defeat" in Gaza.

"Of course they will be slapped for that action."

The Gaza war began with Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel. Iran has denied any direct involvement in that attack.

In a statement for Quds Day, Iran's foreign ministry renewed the "support of the Islamic republic for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people" against Israel.

ap-jri/hkb/kir