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Tags: iran | israel | hamas | middle east | war | gaza | u.s.

Iranian Officer's Death Stokes Fears of Wider Middle East War

By    |   Tuesday, 26 December 2023 08:19 PM EST

The death of an Iranian officer in an Israeli airstrike has stoked fears of a wider Middle Eastern war breaking out, as the conflict in the Gaza Strip rages and the death toll continues to rise.

In a post on X, Tehran vowed to retaliate against Israel for the death of the senior Iranian official in Syria.

"Tel Aviv is waiting for a tough countdown," Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

In addition to the Israeli strike, mounting civilian deaths in Gaza also threaten to stymie a tireless effort by the United States to keep the Israel-Hamas war from expanding beyond the borders of Gaza.

Regardless of what Washington would like to see happen, the U.S. is being dragged further and further into the conflict, as evidenced by the ceaseless attacks on U.S. service members in Iraq and Syria by Iranian proxy groups.

On Christmas Day, an explosive drone hit a U.S. airbase in northern Iraq, leaving one soldier critically injured.

Analysts The Hill spoke with say they don't expect a wider war to break out any time soon, even as the conflict gives every indication of continuing into the new year.

"Everybody is playing a chess game," Barbara Slavin, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, told the outlet. "You have so many different players now."

Slavin said she does not foresee a significant change in the near future.

"The major casualties of this war have taken place in Israel and in Gaza, and the West Bank," she said. "These other attacks, while they're kind of scary, are really very much symbolic, more symbolic than part of a broader conflict at this time. It can always change — can always escalate — but I don't see this developing into World War III."

Brig. Gen. Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was reportedly killed in the Israeli strike in Damascus on Monday. Mousavi was responsible for coordination between Syria and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based military and political group supported by Iran.

According to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the Israel Defense Forces are fighting a "multi-arena" war after the devastating Oct. 7 terror attack on the Jewish state by Hamas; the Palestinian militant group is funded by Iran. The brutal incursion left more than 1,200 Israelis dead.

"Anyone who acts against us is a target, no one is immune," Gallant said Tuesday.

Mousavi's death sparked an outpouring of grief from Iran and its allies and Iranian state-run media reported that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran would definitely retaliate.

"His martyrdom is another sign of frustration and weakness of the occupying Zionist regime in the region," Raisi reportedly said.

State media also reported that Hezbollah has strongly condemned the strike that killed Mousavi. Analysts told The Hill that if Iran responds to the Israeli strike, it will use Hezbollah and other proxy groups to do so, rather than responding directly.

Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said Israel most likely carried out the strike to communicate to Tehran that senior Iranian officials can and will be targeted.

Contending that Iran is "playing the longer game" against the U.S. and Israel, Parsi said Tehran will not respond with a direct, escalatory attack.

"They're building up the capability of the Houthis, Hezbollah and others," he told The Hill. "We're likely going to see more attacks on the U.S. … rather than the Iranian strike."

Though Israel has killed a number of senior Iranian officials over the past 10 years, Tehran has seldom ordered a direct strike on the Jewish state, usually acting through its proxies instead.

Iranian-backed militias have now attacked U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East approximately 100 times since Oct. 17, heightening tensions throughout the entire region.

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The death of an Iranian officer in an Israeli airstrike has stoked fears of a wider Middle Eastern war breaking out, as the conflict in the Gaza Strip rages and the death toll continues to rise.
iran, israel, hamas, middle east, war, gaza, u.s., airstrike, civilian, deaths
Tuesday, 26 December 2023 08:19 PM
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