A suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, which killed seven Iranian military advisers, including senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has marked a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and its regional adversaries. While Iran has vowed a "swift, direct, and harsh" response to the attack, experts remain divided on whether the incident will lead to a direct confrontation or further proxy retaliation.

According to Reuters reporters at the scene, emergency workers were seen clambering atop the rubble of a destroyed building inside the diplomatic compound, adjacent to the main Iranian embassy building. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who was present at the site, strongly condemned the "atrocious terrorist attack" that targeted the consulate and killed "a number of innocents."

The IRGC confirmed in a statement that seven Iranian military advisers died in the strike, including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in its elite Quds Force. Israel, which has long targeted Iran's military installations and proxies in Syria, typically does not discuss such attacks. When asked about the strike, an Israeli military spokesperson told Reuters, "We do not comment on reports in the foreign media."

Bill Roggio, managing editor of Long War Journal, told Fox News Digital that he expects the Iranians to respond, given the target and location of the strike. However, he noted that the response is more likely to come through Iran's proxies, such as Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Iraqi and Syrian militias, rather than a direct confrontation with Israel.

Yigal Carmon, founder and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and a former adviser to two Israeli prime ministers on countering terrorism, said that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's policies over the years "reflect cowardice." Carmon argued that Khamenei will likely continue with the proxy game, targeting Israel through the Houthis, Hezbollah, and possibly terrorists in the West, rather than escalating directly against an Israeli target.

Casey Babb, a Fellow with the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv and a Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, told Fox News Digital that the strike signals to Israel's enemies that "the reach of Israel is immeasurable" and that "no one is safe." Babb added that the attack will deal Iran a "serious organizational blow" and disrupt the IRGC's ability to "mobilize, plan, and carry out effective attacks."

During a news conference, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller expressed concern that the reported strike could be seen as "escalatory" and potentially "cause an increase in conflict in the region." However, he noted that the U.S. did not have confirmation of the target or the responsible party.

Joe Truzman, a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and an expert on Iran and its proxies, told Fox News Digital that while Iran has generally steered clear of direct conflict with Israel, the specific targeting of high-ranking IRGC officers and the Iranian consulate suggests that Iran may respond more forcefully compared to past attacks on its officers in Syria. He warned that this possible shift in tactics could indicate that the conflict between Iran and Israel may be entering a new and potentially more dangerous phase.

The attack on the Iranian embassy compound has drawn condemnation from various Muslim nations, including Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Russia. Hezbollah, the Lebanese group seen as Iran's most powerful armed proxy in the region, vowed to retaliate, stating, "This crime will not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge."