The Islamic State killed a general from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) during fighting near the Syrian city of Aleppo. The general is the third senior Iranian military leader to have been killed while battling the Islamic State and other jihadist groups operating in Syria and Iraq this year.
The IRGC announced that Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani “was killed by the ISIL terrorists while in an advisory mission in Syria,” the Tasnim News Agency reported, using an outdated acronym to describe the Islamic State. Hamedani’s death was mourned by Iran’s president, the Minister of Defense, the Foreign Minister, and other senior Iranian officials.
Hamedani was purportedly killed while fighting “the ISIL terrorists on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo.” The Islamic State is said to be pressing an offensive on the contested city of Aleppo.
The IRGC said that Hamedani is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s. In the Syrian civil war, he served as “a senior military advisor that played a ‘decisive role in the protection of the holy shrine of Sayyida Zeinab'” in Damascus, Tasnim noted. “The IRGC statement also highlighted Brigadier General Hamedani’s role in strengthening the Islamic resistance front in the fight on terrorists in Syria.”
While not stated, Hamedani likely is a member of the Qods Force, the external branch of the IRGC that specializes in training Shiite groups to organize as military and political groups and spread Iran’s “revolution.” Qods Force has been instrumental in establishing terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi militias such as the Hezbollah Brigades, Asaib al Haq, and a host of others.
In Syria, Qods Force is helping to organize Hezbollah, local Syrian militias, and Iraqi and Afghan militias who are battling against a wide range of Sunni jihadist groups such as the Islamic State, Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham, and a host of allied and rival Salafist organizations and so-called moderate opposition to President Bashar al Assad’s regime.
Hamedani is the third senior Iraqi military adviser who has been killed in the Syrian-Iraqi theater in the past year. In January, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi, a Qods Force general, along with five other Iranian officers and six Hezbollah fighters were killed in what is thought to be an Israeli airstrike in Quneitra, Syria.
In May, Jassem Nouri, a commander in the Iranian military, was killed while fighting against the Islamic State near Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar in Iraq. Nouri is thought to have been advising Iranian-backed Shiite militias who are attempting to retake Ramadi from the Islamic State.
Also, in December 2014, the IRGC announced that Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi was killed by an Islamic State sniper while serving in Samarra, close to the shrine of Imam Hassan Askari. Taqavi advised and fought alongside Saraya Khorasani, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia that lauded the general after his death.
Iran has made a significant investment in backing the Syrian the Iraqi governments as the countries are mired in civil wars against jihadist groups. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Qods Force, has personally intervened in several key battles in Iraq, and has appeared on the battlefield. He was at the forefront of Iraq’s fight to take back Tikrit from the Islamic State.
Soleimani has been photographed several times with various Iraqi Shiite militias that Iran directly supports. In October 2014, he was also seen near Jurf al Sahkar in Iraq’s Babil province after Iraqi forces took the city back from the Islamic State. In November 2014, Soleimani was spotted near Samarra helping Iraqi forces in the defense of that city.