Top IRGC commander in Lebanon killed in Syria

According to Iranian embassy in Lebanon, Revolutionary Guard commander was killed in an attack by "armed terrorist groups."

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander based in Lebanon was shot dead in a mysterious attack in Syria on Tuesday, and buried in Iran on Thursday, Iranian media outlets said.
The man has been named as Gen. Hassan Shateri, also known as Hessam Khoshnevis, and was killed in his car while traveling from Damascus to Beirut, according to reports.
While some Iranian sources suggested that Syrian rebels carried out a shooting, others, such as Press TV, which is the Iranian regime’s official English-language outlet, said “suspected Israeli agents” carried out the attack.
The Iranian Embassy in Lebanon said the dead man was in charge of Tehran’s reconstruction assistance in Lebanon.
It said he was killed by “armed terrorist groups,” a label used by the Syrian government to describe President Bashar Assad’s foes, on the road to Lebanon as he returned from Damascus.
A Syrian opposition commander said the attack was carried out by rebel fighters near the Syrian town of Zabadani close to the Lebanese border.
Syrian rebels have repeatedly accused Tehran of sending fighters to help Assad crush the 22- month-old uprising, a charge Iran has denied.
Iran has strongly backed Assad during the uprising in which the United Nations says nearly 70,000 people have been killed.
In September Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief said the force was providing non-military support in Syria and may get involved militarily if there is foreign intervention.
Last year Syrian rebels kidnapped 48 Iranians who they said were Revolutionary Guards fighters and authorities in Tehran described as pilgrims.
They released them this year in a prisoner swap with Syrian authorities.
Details of Shateri’s killing, which Iranian news agencies said happened on Tuesday, were sketchy and Iran’s envoy to Beirut drew a link with Israel.
Forty eight hours after his death no rebel brigade had claimed responsibility.
“He served the oppressed, supporting the resistance to Israel,” Iran’s ambassador to Beirut Ghazanfar Roknabadi told reporters as he received condolences from senior Lebanese officials.
“Assassinating this dear martyr is a clear sign that the Zionist enemy does not accept his successful work.”
In Tehran, a funeral service was held for Khoshnevis on Thursday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported, attended by senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.
Tehran’s IRNA news agency said Shateri was a military engineer during the 1980-88 conflict between Iran and Iraq, and later operated in Afghanistan.
But officials stressed he was engaged in civilian reconstruction in Lebanon for the last seven years and Lebanon’s As- Safir newspaper said had been in Syria to study reconstruction plans for the northern city of Aleppo.
Whole districts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and other urban centers across the country, have been destroyed in months of entrenched urban warfare.
Assad has used air strikes and artillery to push back rebels, who have become increasingly wellarmed as the conflict approaches its third year.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards public relations office said Shateri would be buried in his home town of Semnan after being “martyred on his way from Damascus to Beirut by mercenaries.”