TEHRAN — Iran’s state news agency says authorities have held a commemoration for a commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guards who was killed in Syria.

IRNA said local officials attended Sunday’s ceremony to mark the death of Gen. Abdollah Eskandari.

IRNA said the country’s defense minister sent a condolence message in which he said Gen. Eskandari was killed as he joined defenders of the Sayida Zeinab shrine.

A photo posted online in late May purported to show Eskandari’s disembodied head after he was reportedly decapitated by Syrian rebel forces.

Eskandari, who was listed in other reports as a colonel, was reportedly killed by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, a rebel group that has been fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Earlier this month, Eskandari was quoted telling Iranian media that 42 divisions and 138 battalions of the elite IRGC were fighting in Syria, to bolster forces loyal to Assad.

Eskandari added that “today’s war in Syria is really our war with America.”

The Sayida Zeinab shrine is sacred to Shiite Muslims and is located just south of the Syrian capital.

Unconfirmed photo of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Mohammad Eskandari posted on the profile of Syrian activist who goes by the psuedonym Charles Windsor(screen capture: Facebook)

Unconfirmed photo of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Mohammad Eskandari posted on the profile of Syrian activist who goes by the psuedonym Charles Windsor(screen capture: Facebook)

Iran is a regional Shiite power and a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It has provided training, weapons and cash to help support Assad.

Rebels and anti-government activists also say Iran has combat sent troops. Iran says its officers serve solely in an advisory role.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press