A top Iranian military officer and missile expert was killed by a roadside bombing near Damascus, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp said on Wednesday morning.
The IRGC claimed that Israel was behind the explosion, saying that it will respond to the attack. The statement said the “criminal and fake” Zionist regime would suffer a response for the "atrocity".
The officer was identified as Col. Davoud Jafari who had served as an adviser of the IRGC Aerospace Force in Syria, according to the Tasnim News Agency.
IRGC Aerospace Colonel Davoud Jafari has been killed in an explosion in Syria, the Revolutionary Guard announced, blaming Israel for the killing and vowing to retaliate. pic.twitter.com/t8PYGgmnnP— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) November 23, 2022
According to Tasnim, Jafari was among one of the IRGC officials responsible for the seizure of two US Navy command boats carrying 10 US personnel in the Persian Gulf in January 2016.
In the incident, photos were taken of the US personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads. After the incident, Jafari and other IRGC officials met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to receive a medal for the seizure.
היועץ לביטחון לאומי ד״ר אייל חולתא ביקר אתמול בבחריין במפקדת הצי ה5 האמריקני וקיבל בוודאי תדרוך על האיומים הימיים מאיראן. בשביל הכתבים הצבאיים, התמונה היא הסיפור, בשבילנו, דווקא מה שמוצג בפינה השמאלית (ראו הגדלה), בה ניתן לראות את המעקב החזותי אחר מגוון כלי השיט של הצי האיראני. pic.twitter.com/Yh8EtD8jhA— אינטלי טיימס - Intelli Times (@IntelliTimes) November 22, 2022
On Sunday, an Israeli delegation led by Israel’s National Security Adviser Dr. Eyal Hulata visited US 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. Independent Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, who runs the Intelli Times blog, noted that surveillance footage of Iranian naval vessels could be seen on screens in photos from the visit.
Solomon noted that assassination coming so soon after Hulata's visit, as well as Jafari's role in the seizure of US vessels, could indicate that the roadside bomb was placed in a joint Israeli-American mission.
Israel's alleged operations in Syria against Iran
Iranian officers and military forces have been stationed in Syria for a number of years. Initially, Iran sent forces there to assist Bashar Assad in quelling the uprising against his regime but the Iranian troops have remained as part of an IRGC effort to establish bases from which they can threaten and attack Israel.
As a result, Israel repeatedly strikes the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, although in most cases does not take responsibility. On November 8, for example, 25 Iranian-backed militants were reportedly killed and 10 others were wounded, in an attack that Lebanese media claimed Israel committed. The attack targeted Iranian fuel shipments headed to Lebanon.
The IDF has been engaging in a continued campaign to disrupt Iran's activities in Syria, in what some army officials have defined as the war-between-the-wars strategy. The campaign aims to disrupt Iran's aspirations of regional hegemony, as well as to prevent Tehran from placing its proxies within Syria.