Hossein Amirabdollahian inaugurating the new site for Iranian consular services. REUTERS./

 – Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian inaugurated a new site for Iranian consular services in the Syrian capital on Monday, Syrian state media reported, in a building near the previous consulate flattened in an Israeli airstrike last week.

New consulate building after Iran’s consulate in Damascus was targeted in a suspected Israeli attack on Monday April 1, in Damascus, Syria April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Firas Makdesi

The strike, which flattened the consular building adjacent to Iran’s embassy and killed seven Iranian military officers including two senior commanders, was an escalation ofIsraeli attacks on Iranian interests in Syria alongside the Gaza war.

It drew condemnations from the United Nations and European Union for striking diplomatic premises, and Iran has vowed revenge.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad attended the opening of the new consular building, alongside Amirabdollahian who is concluding a regional tour in Syria, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA. The pair then visited one of those wounded in the strike who was still in the hospital being treated.

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A member of the Iranian delegation told Reuters the new consular building had previously housed the headquarters of an Iranian-Syrian automobile venture.

In a joint press conference, Mekdad said Syria stood with the “resistance” factions in the region – Iran’s term for its allies in the region who are sworn enemies of Israel – but did not elaborate on whether Syria would respond directly. Amirabdollahian repeated that Israel would “be punished” for hitting the consular building but did not provide specifics.

Amirabdollahian concluded his visit to Damascus after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Until now, Tehran has avoided directly entering the fray in the Gaza war, while supporting allies’ attacks on Israeli and U.S. targets.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily, Kinda Makieh, Firas Makdesi and Adam Makary; Editing by Peter Graff)

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