A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — officially a U.S.-designated terrorist organization — died in an airstrike sometime between Saturday and Sunday, Reuters reported, citing local militia and Iraqi security.
The commander, whose identity remains unconfirmed, was allegedly killed after crossing the border from Iraq and into Syria while transporting weapons, according to Iraqi security. Three others died in the attack.
Paramilitary groups allied with Iran reportedly retrieved the bodies.
Last week, Israel launched a series of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria. It remains unclear if the Saturday/Sunday attack was Israeli in origin, though few alternative candidates exist.
A U.N. official claims the killing of Iranian terrorist mastermind Gen. Qasem Soleimani was a violation of international law. https://t.co/Qs0zBLSEQv
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 5, 2020
Iran has consistently provided support to paramilitary groups in Iraq in an effort to both curb U.S. influence in the area and expand its own. Prominent among these groups is the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of mostly Iran-backed Shiite militias, which organized a mob to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in late 2019.
Though Iraq has recovered most of its territory from the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), which threatened to topple the government, an estimated 10,000 jihadists remain in the country. In Syria, the years-long civil war remains technically ongoing, with President Bashar al-Assad’s government retaining power.
Pro-Iranian militias operate in Syria’s eastern regions, near the Iraqi border, and have worked against the Syrian rebels challenging the Assad regime. Local groups have accused Iranian forces of spreading the Chinese coronavirus in Syria. The Assad regime speaks little of the pandemic, though human rights activists and opposition leaders have alleged the government kills the infected to stop the spread.
The airstrike comes days after the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, who died in an ambush attack, evidently in broad daylight. No one has yet claimed responsibility for Fakhrizadeh’s death, though Iran has cast the blame on Israel.
Iranian state media reported on Friday morning that top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near the capital city of Tehran by unidentified “terrorists” after a fierce battle with his security team. https://t.co/CvCGyUCGQD
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) November 27, 2020
Iranian forces have escalated their rhetoric in response to recent Israeli strikes and their alleged killing of Fakhrizadeh, with IRGC commander Hossein Salami vowing “severe revenge and punishment” against Israel’s “fake, terrorist and infanticide Zionist regime.”
In January of this year, President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike which killed Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian major general who led the IRGC Quds Force after a swarm of PMF militants failed to overrun the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The mob had spray-painted “Soleimani is our commander” on the side of the embassy.