Report: Iran Quds Force Commander Killed in Damascus
Reports in the Arab-language press indicate the head of Iran's covert foreign operations Quds force was killed in Wednesday's bombing in Damascus.
Iran has made no bones about having bolstered Assad's embattled regime with members of its own elite Revolutionary Guard, but the death of Suleimani would be a direct blow to Tehran.
A combat veteran of Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq, Suleimani took command of the al-Quds Force in the late 1990s and has become a powerful figure in the upper echelons of the Tehran regime.
The United States, along with its allies, would like to see regime change in Damascus and end Syria's alliance with Iran, forged in 1980 by Assad's late father, Hafez Assad.
Jerusalem blames the Quds force for the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Ares eighteen years ago, as well as a recent spate of bombing attempts targeting Israeli diplomats abroad.
The Quds Force and Hizbullah terror organization in Lebanon have a long-established relationship, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called out on Wednesday following a bus bombing in Bulgaria that left at least six Israelis dead and dozens more wounded.
Officially established thirty years ago, the Quds Force had as many as 2,500 members in Lebanon in 1982, and continues to provide military advisers to Hizbullah and other anti-Israel terror groups.
Meanwhile, Syria's rebels -- of whom the Free Syrian Army of some 30,000 army defectors comprises the largest faction -- continue to accumulate successes: the long-loyal Division 61 defected in Damascus, while ammunition depots were looted by rebels.
Meanwhile, Al-Arabiya TV reported that the Syrian security forces are shelling areas adjacent to the Golan Heights. Israel has placed its military on high alert and cancelled all weekend leaves out of concern the fighting could spill over into the Jewish state.