Iranian commander killed in Damascus

Published Thursday, February 14, 2013

Assailants shot dead an Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief in an ambush on the way from Damascus towards the Lebanese capital, the Iranian authorities said on Thursday.

Iran's elite fighting force named him as commander Hassan Shateri, in a statement that said he was killed on Tuesday.

"Commander Hassan Shateri was martyred en route from Damascus to Beirut at the hands of Zionist regime mercenaries and backers," the force's spokesman, Ramezan Sherif, said in the statement.

Sherif identified Shateri as a Revolutionary Guards commander who was also head of the Iranian Committee for the Reconstruction of Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he "strongly condemned this terrorist act."

Cited by Iranian media, Salehi said he "valued the selfless services of this commander of Islam and his tireless efforts in the reconstruction of the damaged areas in the southern Lebanon."

Last month, US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford criticized Iran's "unhelpful" role in the Syrian conflict.

"They are sending arms, they are sending other kinds of experts, and in fact we know that they are sending Iran Revolutionary Guard" members, said Ford, who who was recalled from Damascus in October 2011 because of security threats.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Ali Jaafari, said in September that members of the Quds Force, the Guards' elite special operations unit, were in Syria and Lebanon but insisted they were only there to provide "counsel."

Iran's foreign ministry later denied any Revolutionary Guards were present in Syria, saying Jaafari's comments had been published out of context.

Iran's Fars news agency said Shateri was killed on Tuesday, but did not elaborate.

His funeral in Tehran on Thursday was attended by Jaafari, Qassem Soleimani who heads the foreign operations Quds Force unit, and Ali Saidi, representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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