A suspected Israeli air strike destroyed Iran’s consulate in Damascus and killed a top Iranian general in a sharp escalation following months of clashes between Israel and Tehran’s proxies.

Iran vowed a ‘decisive response’ to the killing of General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) believed to be in charge of Iran’s operations in Syria and Lebanon.

State TV on Monday evening announced his death in an ‘attack by Zionist regime fighters’.

The airstrike hit the consulate on Monday afternoon, killing at least five people and wounding everyone else who was inside at the time.

The consulate building, between the Iranian embassy and the Canadian embassy in Damascus, was completely flattened.

Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s foreign minister, condemned the assassination as a ‘terrorist attack’.

Mohammad Reza Zahedi commanded the IRGC’s Quds Force in Lebanon. He was sanctioned by the United States and Britain.

The US Treasury sanctions designation says he acted as a ‘liaison’ to Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence services and was reportedly charged with guaranteeing weapons shipments to Hezbollah.

Israel has stepped up a campaign against Iranian proxies in Syria and Lebanon in recent weeks, in response to near-daily Hezbollah rocket attacks over its northern border.

A series of pinpointed Israeli strikes on Syria and Lebanon last weekend killed a Syrian colonel, a senior Hezbollah commander and several fighters.

Analysts say Israel has avoided actions that could escalate the tit-for-tat cycle of attacks to a full-scale war.

[Photo: IRGC]