Iran accused Israel on Monday of killing a high-level military figure in a missile strike in Syria at a time when concerns are growing that the war in Gaza could escalate into a regional conflict.
The assassinated Iranian was identified as Brig. Gen. Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He was said to have helped oversee the shipment of missiles and other arms to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed military force in Lebanon and Syria that is a frequent adversary of Israel’s.
Israel, adopting its customary stance, declined to comment directly on Iran’s accusation that it was behind the killing. But Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said on Tuesday that the country was already “in a multifront war” and “coming under attack from seven theaters,” naming Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.
“We have already responded and taken action in six of these theaters,” he told lawmakers.
Israel is waging a major war in Gaza and skirmishing with Hezbollah fighters on its northern border with Lebanon. And on the Red Sea, in response to the Gaza conflict, Yemen-based Houthi forces — also backed by Iran — have been widening the conflict by targeting vessels.
In confirming General Mousavi’s killing, on a farm outside Damascus, Hezbollah described him as a “dear brother.” The semiofficial Iranian news agency Fars said that Israel would “pay for this crime without a doubt.” Various news outlets said he was killed on Monday.
Israeli officials confirmed that the general was dead, but publicly declined to discuss the killing.
“I am not referring to this or that operation in the Middle East reported by non-Israeli media,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces. “The I.D.F. has a role, of course: to protect and safeguard the security interests of the state of Israel.”
With both Iran and Hezbollah accusing Israel, the Israeli armed forces were put on high alert on Sunday for the prospect of Iranian retaliation, one military official said. The military, the official said, expects the possible use of rockets or drones launched from Syria and Lebanon at Israel.
And more road closures were expected in northern Israel, where some routes had already been shut down because of the fighting with Hezbollah.
General Mousavi was described as having been a close associate of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a highly popular Iranian security intelligence commander who was killed by a U.S. strike in Baghdad in 2020. In announcing General Mousavi’s death, Fars published a photograph of him and General Suleimani posing close together.
Vivian Yee, Hwaida Saad and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.