Iran is bringing home the body of a top-ranking military officer killed in April in southern Syria, Iranian news agencies reported, at least the second senior Iranian to die there this year while supporting Damascus in the war.
Hadi Kajbaf, a major general in the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was killed near the rebel-held town of Busr al-Harir, about 100 km (60 miles) south of Damascus, the IRGC-linked Tasnim agency reported late on Friday.
Three other Iranians were killed alongside Kajbaf including a mid-ranking Shi'ite Muslim cleric, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Iranian military and financial support have been crucial to helping President Bashar Assad survive the war, now in its fifth year. The conflict is a focal point for Shi'ite Islamist Iran's power struggle with Sunni Saudi Arabia, which supports the insurgents battling to topple Assad.
Kajbaf held the highest rank used in Iran's armed forces, making him more senior than an IRGC brigadier general who was killed in January by an Israeli missile strike in Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, along with a number of fighters from the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah group.