Iranian Officers killed in Israeli strike in Damascus. Escalation could be imminent

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Debka File

The Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s eulogy for Samir Quntar at his funeral Monday, Dec. 21 was not only brief but also untraditional. After blaming Israel in a few short sentences for assassinating him, Nasrallah said he would laud the dead terrorist’s deeds and qualities on another occasion.

That was hardly the tribute the Hizballah would normally have awarded a senior operative killed by Zionist missiles.

debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources explain this odd behavior by events leading up to the rocket strike. The Druze arch terrorist had of late transferred his services from Hizballah to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He kept up his connections in Hizballah, but took orders from the Iranians in preference to instructions from Nasrallah and the commander of Hizballah operations in Syria, Mustafa Badr al-Din.

The Iranian command in Damascus provided him with two apartments in the Jamaran district south of the Syrian capital, where he lived and worked. But he was also given two Iranian handlers, officers of Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s Al Qods Brigades.

The two Iranian officers died in the rocket attack Sunday, Dec. 20, along with Quntar and his deputy, Farhan Issam Sha’alan, head of the “Syrian National Resistance on the Golan” organization, which was just then getting ready to launch attacks deep inside Israeli territory.

debkafile’s exclusive sources name the two Iranian officers as Mohammed Riza Fahemi and Mir Ahmad Ahmadi. Their coffins were flown to Tehran the day after the assassination.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, the IDF raised the level of alert another notch on the Golan, the Lebanese and Syrian borders and on the main roads of northern Israel, in view of signs that the Iranian leadership was bent on avenging the loss of the arch-terrorist and the two Iranian intelligence officers.

Our Iranian and intelligence sources report that high Iranian officials had concluded that Israel had targeted Quntar to get at Tehran, rather than Hizballah. It was seen as a warning from Jerusalem that if the new terrorist network that the Druze terrorist had established, in partnership with Syria and Hizballah, went into action against Israel, Iran would pay a price: more elements of its military and intelligence structure in Syria would be targeted. Iran’s leaders also decided, according to those sources, that the deaths of Quntar and two Iranian officers must not go unpunished.

But the rushed eulogy and unceremonious funeral also had a hidden context. Although the dead man was a member of the Druze faith, the ceremony was conducted according to Shiite rites at Hizballah’s main center of worship, the Shite Hosniyeh mosque in southern Beirut. The hundreds of thousands of Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli Druze who witnessed the ceremony were appalled to discover that Quntar had deserted his ancestral faith and converted to Shiite Muslim.

debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources have learned that the terrorist kept his conversion a deep secret, known to no one in the Druze community, only to a handful of top Iranian and Hizballah officials. Since the secret has come out, his compatriots in Syria, Lebanon and the Golan feel they were cheated by Iranian and Hizballah agents into following Quntar, in the false belief that he headed an autonomous Druze group, when in fact he was a renegade and the minion of a Shiite power.

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