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Forecast podcast: Iran vows revenge after Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Agnese Boffano discuss the Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate building in Syria, plus more on Slovakia’s presidential runoff, a solar eclipse, Ireland’s new prime minister being sworn in and South Korea’s legislative elections.

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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Agnese Boffano, David Wyllie Joe Veyera, Jaime Calle Moreno and Vivian Wang. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is April 4th.

In this week’s forecast you’ll hear about an Israeli strike near the Iranian embassy in Syria, Slovakia’s presidential runoff, a solar eclipse, Ireland’s new prime minister being sworn in and South Korea’s legislative elections. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.

Suspected Israeli strike near Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria

Information compiled by Agnese Boffano

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at Israel’s bombing of an Iranian consulate building in Syria. For more on that I’ve got fellow Factal editor Agnese Boffano.

JIMMY: Hello, Agnese.

AGNESE: Hey, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Well, Agnese, this Israeli strike in Syria sure has complicated things. Hoping you can catch us up to speed on what went down?  

AGNESE: Yeah, definitely. So, this all happened on Monday afternoon when, supposedly according to Syria’s interior ministry, Israeli F-35 fighters jets crossed from the occupied Golan Heights and targeted the building adjacent to the Iranian consulate in Damascus with at least six missiles, according to the report. And this resulted in no damage to the actual main, you know, embassy building but the construction next to it was completely destroyed. According to the Syrian Observatory, which is a renowned war monitor for the country, this resulted in more than a dozen people killed, including a senior commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, who, you know, until the time of his death was a very high ranking official who was tasked with overseeing the region, you know, Lebanon and Syria. And among the dead there was also confirmed to be a member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and several other IRGC members, as well as some Syrian nationals. And of course, I just have to clarify Israel hasn’t actually confirmed that it was behind the attack, and if anything we shouldn’t expect it to come out confirming as Israel rarely ever acknowledges operations in Syria, but it’s known for years that Israel has been targeting Iranian and Lebanese, Palestinian officials in the region using such methods so it’s safe to say Israel was very likely behind this.

JIMMY: Can you talk a little about the significance of this particular situation?

AGNESE: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things worth pointing out as to why this incident was particularly significant in terms of regional development. So, as I said, Israel has for years been conducting operations in government-controlled areas of Syria and very often targeting Iranian assets especially in the Damascus region where a lot of IRGC bases are located. And although Israeli airstrikes in Syria have increased significantly since the onset of the war on Gaza began on Oct. 7 last year, this one was extremely precise in targeting the exact building, as I said, next to the Iranian consulate. So, firstly, this was a significant event because it killed – probably who is the highest ranking assassination of Iranian officials since the US drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad back in 2020, so it’s safe to say this was a hard blow for Tehran. But additionally, this was significant because it was an incredibly on the nose message from Israel to Iran, you know the fact that it was precise enough to be in extreme proximity to the actual consulate building which to me and I think a lot of analysts would agree, is a big message from Israel directed towards not only Iran vis-a-vis the tensions between the two countries, but also Iran’s continued commitment and support for a lot of its regional allies who are currently engaging in fighting Israel, you know you’ve got Hamas and [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. So, those are two aspects as to why this was significant. 

JIMMY: What kind of reactions have you seen to the strike?

AGNESE: There’s been quite a lot of condemnation firstly of course from Syria, who have called the incident a violation of its airspace, and also from Iran who have vowed to retaliate not only on Israel itself but also on US positions in the region, which it considers an ally to Israel. So, and there’s also been significant condemnation from UN and US officials but they’ve kind of all fallen short of directly blaming Israel for the incident and the US state department has also refused to comment on whether they had prior knowledge of the operation or not. Israel has of course refused to comment as well, but there have been some interviews with the New York Times and some Israeli officials basically confirming that it was them who took part in the incident but they claim that the actual building that was targeted was as i said a military site disguised as civilian and embassy infrastructure. There’s been talks with the respective ambassadors, Iran has summoned the Swiss ambassador as well, because there’s no Israeli embassy in Tehran, but that’s kind of the political level that has resulted after the incident. 

JIMMY: Well, I know there’s a lot to consider and all, but what do you think folks should be watching for next?

AGNESE: I think the main thing that a lot of people are expecting to happen at this point is for Iran-backed militias in the region to kind of resume their attacks against US positions in the region. If you remember we’ve been tracking these attacks on US bases in Syria, in Iraq and even Jordan a few months ago which, if you remember, we did a podcast on it because it was particularly fatal, but it’s safe to say that these have somewhat decreased, although not stopped altogether, because I think until now both Iran and the US have attempted to de-escalate the situation as much as possible without expanding the current conflict in Gaza which has been somewhat limited to that geographical space, as well as some cross-border fire between Lebanon and Israel. But we’ll have to see if the situation changes for Iran, I mean, as I said, this was a hard blow for Tehran, probably the biggest one since Oct. 7 and I think although the rhetoric from Iranian officials has been quite strong for the last few months on Israel, regarding its operations in Gaza and its targeting of Iranian assets in Syria before, but it’s always fallen short of more direct action, but we’ll have to see if this was the red-line for Tehran and the final straw, if you wish, so we’ll have to see if they decide to get more directly involved in the war by striking as they promised. 

JIMMY: Well, Agnese, we’ll pause there for today, but I know you’ll be keeping a close eye on things in the days ahead. Always appreciate your insight. Thank you. 

AGNESE: Thank you.

Slovakia presidential runoff

Information compiled by David Wyllie

JIMMY: Voters in Slovakia will cast their ballots in the second round of the country’s presidential election on Saturday.

None of the nine candidates in the running won a majority in the first round of the election, which was held on March 23.

Independent candidate and career diplomat Ivan Korčok took about 42 percent of the vote; close government ally Peter Pellegrini came in second place with 37 percent.

Korčok is a pro-Western figure and would act as a foil to Prime Minister Robert Fico, whereas Pellegrini sympathizes with the government’s pro-Russian stance.

Opinion polling puts Pellegrini as the favorite to win the second round.

Having a pro-government candidate in the president’s office, despite it being largely a ceremonial role, would allow Fico to consolidate his grip on power amid continuing opposition protests.

Solar eclipse

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Millions of people in Mexico, the United States and Canada will have the chance to see a total solar eclipse on Monday. 

Weather permitting, an estimated 44 million people will be in what is called the “path of totality.”

Shortly after 11 a.m. Pacific Time, Mexico’s West Coast will be the first location in continental North America to experience totality. 

The path then moves through 15 states across the central and northeastern United States, including major cities like Dallas, Indianapolis and Cleveland.

The path of the eclipse eventually exits over Atlantic Canada at around 5:15 p.m. local time.

Of course, the event is expected to draw large crowds in several areas. In anticipation several areas, including Canada’s Niagara Region and Travis County, Texas, have preemptively declared a state of emergency or disaster declaration. 

Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation said they’ll treat the day like a major travel holiday, restricting roadwork to accommodate extra traffic. 

Now, severe thunderstorms could wreak havoc for post-eclipse travelers in the Dallas area, raising additional concerns that a significant increase in fatal car crashes seen around the 2017 eclipse could repeat itself with millions of additional drivers on the road.

Irish parliament meets after PM resigns

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Ireland’s new prime minister will be sworn in at a parliament meeting on Tuesday.

Simon Harris, currently the country’s education minister, will take on the role of prime minister after the resignation of Leo Varadkar. 

Varadkar became prime minister in 2020 after his center-progressive party Fine Gael entered a coalition with two other parties.

However, Varadkar resigned last week after the government failed to win a referendum on liberalizing the country’s constitution.

Harris will be the youngest prime minister in Ireland’s history at 37 years old.

He’ll have a fair number of issues to contend with in his first few weeks, including shoring up his party’s waning support prior to European and local elections in June.

He’ll also be expected to take action on the hot button issues of immigration and a housing crisis.

South Korea legislative elections

Information compiled by Vivian Wang

JIMMY: South Korean voters will head to the polls Wednesday to choose lawmakers for the next four years.

The vote is taking place against a backdrop of strike action by doctors and concerns over misinformation and [political] violence.

South Korea’s current president Yoon Suk-yeol has struggled to push through legislation since his election in 2022 as the country’s parliament is controlled by the opposition.

Tensions have run high in recent months with politicians from both major parties targeted in violent attacks in January.

AI-fueled disinformation campaigns are also rife, with analysts particularly concerned over deepfake videos intended to sway the results of the vote.

Of course, ongoing strikes by thousands of doctors is likely to be at the front of voters’ minds. The industrial action was sparked by reforms to medical admissions proposed by the current government.

The elections will be a test for President Yoon on whether his People Power Party can secure enough seats to pass the government’s legislative agenda.

However, new political parties which splintered off from the opposition could threaten his chances at a majority.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors David Wyllie, Joe Veyera, Jaime Calle Moreno and Vivian Wang. Our interview featured editor Agnese Boffano and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas, with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Suspected Israeli missile strikes targeted the building adjacent to the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, during the day on Monday. (Photo: Raja News)

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