A senior officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed in Syria on Monday, according to a report from the Tehran-based Mehr News Agency.
Gen. Abolfazl Alijani was a member of the IRGC ground forces. The Mehr News Agency, which is owned by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, described Alijani as a “military advisor” but provided no further information, except to state that his body would be returned for burial in Iran in the coming days.
According to The Times of Israel, the State of Israel is not suspected to be behind Alijani’s death, even though Israel is believed to have carried out several airstrikes in Syria earlier this month. In August, Israel reportedly bombed Iranian targets on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus, hitting several outposts belonging to the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, according to two Syrian military defectors familiar with the region.
Israel reportedly also targeted an Iranian base near the village of Abu Afsa and an air-defense and radar station nearby. According to the Syrian army, two previous Israeli attacks – one south of the Tartus Governate and one in Damascus – killed three servicemen and wounded three.
Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years, as Syria has been harboring and allowing Iranian assets to move in and throughout its country. The Iranian assets have included arms shipments bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon and for outposts manned by the terrorist organization.
Israel’s bombing campaign is known as “the war between wars.” While its tactical purpose is to hinder Iranian arms transfers and similar problems, an overarching strategy for the campaign is to prevent Iran from becoming even more deeply entrenched in Syria.
Such entrenchment would enable Iran to fulfill its hegemonic ambitions of taking over the entire region, not least to threaten the existence of Israel.
Alijani’s death came just a few days after it became known that Iran had dropped its demand that the United States take the IRGC off its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list as a condition for the Islamist regime’s agreement to return to compliance with the Iranian nuclear deal.
According to a Friday report by CNN, Iran’s dropping of this “red line” demand is enabling the negotiations to move forward.
“The current version of the text, and what they are demanding, drops it,” an unnamed senior official in the Biden administration told CNN. The official emphasized that the U.S. had rejected the demand repeatedly. “So if we are closer to a deal, that’s why.”
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden decided in May not to delist the IRGC, communicating the decision to Israel’s then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which he later confirmed in a tweet.
“I welcome the decision by the U.S. Administration to keep Iran’s IRGC on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list – which is where it belongs,” Bennett said.
Israel was among the countries that advocated most strongly against delisting the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said that delisting it would send “a terribly wrong message to our part of the world.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and introduced a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, put the IRGC on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list in 2019.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.