Thursday, 18 April 2024

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Analysis-Many Iranian options to retaliate against Israel, but all carry risk By Reuters

Twelve drown trying to reach aid off Gaza beach, Palestinian authorities say By Reuters

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By Idrees Ali and Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (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.

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.

“We will not hesitate to defend our personnel and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of the situation … to resume their attacks on U.S. personnel,” said Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood.


One source who tracks the issue carefully and who spoke on condition of anonymity said Iran faced the conundrum of wanting to respond to deter further such Israeli strikes while avoiding an all-out war.

“They have faced this real dilemma that if they respond they could be courting a confrontation which they clearly don’t want,” he said. “They are trying to modulate their actions in a way that shows that they are responsive but not escalatory.”

“If they don’t respond in this case, it really would be a signal that their deterrence is a paper tiger,” he added, saying Iran might attack Israel proper, Israeli embassies or Jewish facilities abroad.

The U.S. official said given the significance of the Israeli strike, Iran may…

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