Two Iran Guard members who died over weekend were reportedly arming Hezbollah

UK-based opposition outlet reports two officers were not killed in accidents as claimed by semi-official media, but doesn’t give cause of death

A cleric walks past Zolfaghar, top, and Dezful missiles displayed by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
A cleric walks past Zolfaghar, top, and Dezful missiles displayed by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Two aerospace division officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who died over the weekend were involved in arming Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, according to a Tuesday report.

An unidentified source told the UK-based opposition outlet Iran International that Ali Kamani and Mohammad Abdous were “developing arms” for Iran-backed Hezbollah and that the two men “were not killed in accidents,” as had been reported by Iranian media.

They died in separate incidents in different locations, the source said, but gave no details as to how they died.

Hezbollah is known to have built up an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of rockets. Israel has vowed to prevent Iran from transferring advanced missile technology to the terror group.

The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies, believed to be close to the IRGC, on Sunday identified Kamani and said he died in Iran’s central city of Khomein. Tasnim said that Kamani died in a “car accident,” without elaborating.

The news agencies did not give a rank for Kamani. However, a photo published by Tasnim showed the man wearing the epaulets of a second lieutenant in the Guard’s aerospace program, which runs Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as some of the country’s air defenses.

Fars alone reported on the death of Abdous. The agency published a picture of him in civilian clothes at the Imam Reza Shrine in the city of Mashhad, Iran.

Iran’s defense ministry called both men “martyrs,” a designation typically given to those on important assignments.

Hezbollah fighters stand atop a car mounted with a mock rocket, as they parade during a rally to mark the seventh day of Ashoura, in the southern village of Seksakiyeh, Lebanon, on October 9, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

The incidents came amid a string of mysterious deaths in Iran in recent weeks and climbing tensions between Israel and Iran. The Islamic Republic has further breached nuclear agreements, threatened Israel and reportedly targeted Israeli civilians in Turkey, while Israel has issued warnings about Iran’s nuclear program and reportedly bombed Iran-linked targets in Syria.

Among the recent deaths are those of two scientists that Iran suspects were poisoned by Israel, the New York Times reported Monday.

The scientists, Ayoob Entezari and Kamran Aghamolaei, died in separate incidents several weeks ago under murky circumstances that Iran suspects were targeted killings, the Times said, citing an Iranian official and two other sources connected to the government.

Separately, on May 22 two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei in Tehran. He reportedly was involved in killings and abductions outside of Iran, including attempts to target Israelis. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, and Iranian officials have blamed Israel.

The 50-year-old Khodaei remains a shadowy figure and Iran has yet to offer biographic detail beyond saying that he also was a member of the elite Quds Force, which is tasked with carrying out operations abroad. The IRGC has described him as “defender of the shrine” — a reference to Iranians who support militias fighting the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Thousands attended his funeral in Tehran and hardline President Ebrahim Raisi visited his family.

People walk past a banner showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, prior to his funeral ceremony, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Earlier this month, another colonel in the Quds Force died, reportedly in an accident at his home, a fall from either a roof or a balcony. Iran International, which is linked to Iran’s regional adversary Saudi Arabia, claimed that Col. Ali Esmailzadeh was killed over suspicions he provided information to Iran’s enemies that was used in the assassination of Khodaei days earlier.

And late last month, an engineer was killed and another employee injured in Iran’s Parchin military complex under unclear circumstances.

Israel has in recent weeks warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey amid a series of reports about Iranian terror attempts in the country.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported Monday that several Israelis visiting the Turkish city of Istanbul were whisked out of the country last week by Israeli security officials, who were acting on intelligence showing that the visitors were at immediate risk from Iranian assassins.

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