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Iran denies senior Revolutionary Guards commander killed in drone strike

Tehran’s foreign ministry spokesman says no reports received on alleged killing of Muslim Shahdan on Syria-Iraq border

Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran, September 22, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)
Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran, September 22, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry denied on Tuesday reports that a Revolutionary Guards commander was killed in a drone strike on the Syria-Iraq border a day earlier.

“We have not received any report in this regard, and it seems more like media propaganda,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency.

He added, however, that questions on the matter should be directed to Iran’s armed forces.

Reports on Sunday and Monday claimed that Muslim Shahdan was killed in a drone strike on his car. According to one report, the vehicle was also transporting weapons.

The reports did not say who was behind the strike, which reportedly happened late Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday.

Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during the burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran, on November 30, 2020. (HAMED MALEKPOUR / TASNIM NEWS / AFP)

It was the latest in a rapid escalation in military action over the past few weeks that have seen a top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated and unconfirmed reports of airstrikes that have killed pro-Iranian fighters or Iranian troops in Syria, all widely attributed to Israel.

Dismissing the reported attack, Khatibzadeh instead vowed “excruciating” revenge for the killers of the nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

He noted that all regional countries “but one” condemned the killing. “All know that this condemnation is aimed at the occupying regime of Israel,” he added.

Last week, Iran warned that it would bring an end to what it called Israel’s practice of “hit and run” strikes in Syria. Tehran made the threat following a major Israeli assault in response to what Jerusalem said was a failed Iranian explosives attack on the Golan Heights.

On Sunday, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said that Israel would not let up its campaign aimed at keeping Iran-backed fighters from gaining a foothold in Syria.

The campaign has included thousands of airstrikes on targets linked to Iran and alleged weapons convoys, according to reports and accounts from officials speaking anonymously.

However, alleged Israeli strikes on the Syria-Iraq border region are more rare.

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