Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps announced Saturday that one of its senior commanders was killed on Friday while fighting Islamic State fighters in northeastern Syria.
The exact circumstances of Shahrokh Daiepour’s death were not disclosed, but the state-run Fars news agency said he had been involved in training fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy which has been fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
Daiepour had served as a commander in the Islamic Republic’s Navy during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
He was said to have been killed in the same area bordering Iraq where a massive air strike killed more than 50 pro-regime fighters last week.
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_A) June 22, 2018
Damascus has accused the US-led coalition of carrying out the late-night June 17 strike on Al-Hari, a town near the Iraqi border controlled by regional militias fighting in the complex seven-year war on behalf of Assad.
An Iraqi paramilitary force said 22 of its fighters were killed in the raid, and also accused the United States of carrying out the strike.
The US has denied any coalition aircraft were in the area at the time of the strike.
The day after the attack, a US official also told AFP that Washington “has reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike.”
Israel declined to comment, but a strike so far from its border would differ from most other strikes in Syria attributed to Israel, which have largely taken place closer to Syria’s borders with Israel and Lebanon.
The target, apparently Shiite Iraqi militia fighters loyal to Assad, would also mark a shift for Israel, which has previously only carried out airstrikes against Iran’s forces and its proxies, according to reports.
At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel was “taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”