Logo Wide

Syria Today – Damascus Denounces Strike Against Iranian Consulate

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Damascus Denounces Strike Against Iranian Consulate

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad denounced an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, insisting the attack will not affect ties between the two allies, AFP reported.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack that targeted the Iranian consulate building in Damascus killing a number of innocent people,” Mekdad said in a statement carried by Syrian official news agency SANA.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said the minister visited the attack site.

“The Israeli occupation entity will not be able to impact ties between Iran and Syria,” he added.

Iran vows revenge

Iran and one of its key proxies vowed on Tuesday to respond to the strike.

The attack killed seven people, including two Iranian generals and five officers, Syrian and Iranian officials said on Monday.

Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza, and along its border with Lebanon. Monday’s strike in Damascus signalled an escalation because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

It was not clear if Iran would respond itself, risking a dangerous confrontation with Israel and its ally the United States, or if it would continue to rely on proxies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The airstrike in Syria killed Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016, according to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It also killed Zahedi’s deputy, Gen. Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers.

Hezbollah said Tuesday that Zahedi played a crucial role in helping “develop and advance the work” of the group in Lebanon.

“This crime will certainly not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

US Announces New Round of Syria Counter-Terror Sanctions

The United States Treasury Department Officer of Foreign Assets Control has issued a new round of Counter Terrorism Designations relating to Syria. In this round, an additional six persons, eleven businesses, and two ships have been sanctioned. According to the U.S. State Department, today’s sanctions are calibrated specifically against Captagon manufacturing and sales, Syrian government sanctions evasions, and mining exports.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. made this statement:

“The Assad regime continues to employ a variety of schemes to evade sanctions and sustain its longstanding campaign of repression against its own citizens, including trafficking in illegal drugs, exploiting currency exchanges, and leveraging seemingly legitimate businesses…the United States remains committed to holding accountable those who seek to support this illicit financial activity at the expense of the Syrian people.”

At least 203 Cases of Arbitrary Detention Cases Recorded in March 2024, Including Children

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) revealed in its latest monthly report released today that no fewer than 203 cases of arbitrary arrests were documented in March 2023, with those detained including eight children and six women. The group also noted that the Syrian regime continues to violate the ICJ order.

The 18-page report notes that, given the staggering rates of continuing arbitrary arrests, the number of Syrian citizens classified as missing has skyrocketed, so much so that this can be called a phenomenon in itself. Indeed, Syria is one of the worst countries worldwide in terms of the numbers of ‘disappeared’ citizens. 

The report adds that the Syrian regime surpasses many of the world’s other authoritarian regimes by virtue of having absolute hegemony over the legislative and judicial branches of government. The regime has wielded this hegemony to promulgate a multitude of laws and decrees that violate international human rights law, as well as the principles pf law and the parameters of arrests and interrogation established in domestic legislation and the current Constitution of 2012. A part of this process, the report stresses, is legitimizing the crime of torture. 

There are several texts in Syrian law that outlaw torture, including Article 53 of the current Syrian constitution which bans arbitrary arrest and torture and Article 391 of the Public Penal Code, which provides that anyone who uses coercion during interrogation shall receive a timed prison sentence ranging from three months to three years, while torture is wholly prohibited. 

Despite these texts, however, other legal texts, including Law No. 16 of 2022 on Criminalizing Torture, explicitly contradict the aforementioned legal articles and legitimize impunity for torturers

Helpful keywords