Israel is widely believed to be behind the attack, which Iran said killed seven Revolutionary Guard officers.

An Iranian official said on Sunday that Israel’s embassies were “no longer safe”, as it prepares a response.

US and Israeli forces in the region have been put on high alert in anticipation of a possible attack.

Reports in the US media suggest Iran’s retaliation could take place in the coming days.

“The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] can handle Iran,” Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi said in a televised statement. “We can act forcefully against Iran in places near and far.”

Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran had a “legal and legitimate right” to respond to Monday’s strike.

“The embassies of the Zionist regime are no longer safe,” he told Iran’s Isna news agency. He did not provide further detail as to what shape Iran’s response would take.

Reuters Photo showing aftermath of air strike that destroyed building next to Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria (1 April 2024)ReutersThe Iranian embassy (left) does not appear to have been damaged in the strike on the next door consulate building

In a statement, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the defence establishment had completed preparations to respond to any possible scenario.

The IDF has halted all leave for soldiers serving with combat units and called up reservists to bolster air defence.

Israel has also blocked GPS signals across swathes of the country in order to disrupt missiles and drones.

Media outlets in Israel have reported that some of the country’s embassies were evacuated over potential Iranian attacks. The BBC has not independently verified those reports and Israel has not confirmed them.

In an apparent effort to prevent panic, a spokesman for the Israeli army said there was no need for people to buy generators, gather food or withdraw money.

Syria’s defence ministry said Israeli aircraft targeted the Iranian consulate building at about 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT) on Monday.

Syrian air defences shot down some of the missiles, but others made it through and “destroyed the entire building, killing and injuring everyone inside”, the ministry added.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that seven of its officers were killed in the strike, including Brig-Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Brig-Gen Mohammad Hadi Haji-Rahimi.

Photos and videos from the scene showed smoke rising from the remains of the collapsed building. Hours after the strike, people in Tehran burned Israeli and US flags in protest.

On the day after the attack, Ayatollah Khamenei said Israel would “regret this crime”, while President Ebrahim Raisi insisted it would “not go unanswered”.

Israel and its closest ally, the US, have been anticipating an Iranian attack ever since.

In the wake of the attack, the Israeli military said it did not comment on foreign media reports.

But an unnamed senior Israeli official told Reuters news agency that those killed had “been behind many attacks on Israeli and American assets and had plans for additional attacks”. They also insisted that the embassy “was not a target”.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in recent years on targets in Syria that it says are linked to Iran and allied groups which are armed, funded and trained by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has said the guards were sent to Syria to “advise” President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war, but it has denied they have been involved in combat or established bases.

Israel’s strikes have reportedly been stepped up since the start of the war in Gaza in October last year, in response to cross-border attacks on northern Israel by Hezbollah and other Iran-backed groups in Lebanon and Syria.

Iran has avoided direct confrontation with Israel during the conflict so far, but Monday’s attack is seen as a serious escalation.

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