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Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander reported killed in drone strike

Iraqi security forces and local militias sources say Muslim Shahdan and three others died when their vehicle, carrying weapons, was hit just inside Syria after crossing from Iraq

Iran's Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade marking the 36th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2016. (AP Photo/ Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
Iran's Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade marking the 36th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2016. (AP Photo/ Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was killed in an apparent drone strike along the Syrian-Iraqi border, according to widely circulated reports in Arabic-language media Monday.

Iraqi security sources told Saudi-based al-Arabiya News that a drone killed Muslim Shahdan, a senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in a targeted strike on his car.

Other sources in the Iraqi security services told Lebanese-based al-Hadath that three of his companions perished with him.

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

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 air strikes that have killed pro-Iranian fighters or Iranian troops in Syria. The attacks have all been attributed to Israel.

Two Iraqi security officials separately said that Shahdan’s vehicle was carrying weapons and was hit shortly after it crossed the border from Iraq into Syria, Reuters reported.

Israel and the US have accused Iran and its proxies of attempting to smuggle weapons via Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to be used against the Jewish state.

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.

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.

Shahdan’s reported assassination comes days after the killing of prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsin Fakhrizadeh, in an ambush on his convoy outside Tehran on Friday. Israel has been widely reported to be the perpetrator of the targeted killing, although Jerusalem has stayed mum on the issue.

Fakhrizadeh’s death has put Israel and Jewish institutions around the world on high alert, as Iran has publicly vowed revenge and repeatedly claimed Israel stands behind the assassination.

In January, a US drone strike killed senior Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani. Iran responded by firing missiles at US bases in Iraqi that caused dozens of injuries.

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