Iranian president vows retaliation against Israel after airstrike on Syria consulate, saying it ‘will not go unanswered’

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed revenge against Israel following a deadly airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria on Tuesday.

Raisi called the attack – for which responsibility was not taken – a “cowardly crime” and said it would “not go unanswered.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also promised that “Israel will be punished.” Iranian leaders additionally said they hold the U.S. accountable for the attack due to its support for Israel.

The Monday strike killed nearly 10 Iranian officials, including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi.

Zahedi is the highest-ranking member of the Iranian military to be killed since former President Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a 2020 drone strike.

Experts told Digital that Iran is not likely to respond directly against the Jewish state but rather use its proxies to do the job.

“Given the target and location of the strike – at a building adjacent to the consulate — I expect the Iranians to respond,”

“It is difficult to say how the Iranians respond,” Bill Roggio, managing editor of Long War Journal said. “The Iranians may try to target Israelis overseas, and may also leverage its militias – Hezbollah, the Houthis, and the Iraqi and Syria militias, to strike at targets within Israel.”

Hezbollah has already vowed “punishment and revenge” for Israel’s attack, calling those killed in the strike “martyrs.”

Yigal Carmon, a former adviser to two Israeli prime ministers on countering terrorism and founder and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), told Digital that, “Khamenei’s policies over the years reflect cowardice. The Iranian pattern of reaction is such that he escalates when he feels that the other side is afraid of him, and backs down when the other side shows deterrence.”

Carmon’s said his assessment is that “Khamenei will not react to the Israeli escalation by escalating against an Israeli target BY IRAN ITSELF. Rather, he will continue with the proxy game, targeting Israel by the Houthis, Hezbollah and possibly by terrorists in the West. He does not need and is not ready for an all-out war with Israel at this time.”

Responding to the attack during a news conference on Monday, spokesperson Matt Miller said the U.S. did not have confirmation of the target or the responsible party, but noted the department’s concern that the reported strike could be seen as “escalatory” and potentially “cause an increase in conflict in the region.”