Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have confirmed that a senior member of their elite forces died in an Israeli attack in Syria in which six fighters of the Lebanese military group are also reported to have been killed.
The Guards issued a statement on Monday saying that Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was, as the top Iranian general, visiting the southern Syrian region of Quneitra on Sunday when an Israeli helicopter opened fire, killing the Iranian and an unspecified number of Hezbollah fighters with him.
“A group of fighters and Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah] forces were accompanying general Mohammad Ali Allahdadi as they visited the region of Quneitra,” said the statement, which was published by the semi-official Fars news agency.
“[They] were attacked by a military helicopter of the Zionist regime,” it added, a standard Iranian reference to Israel. “This brave general was martyred in this attack alongside some members of Hezbollah.”
It’s a rare example of Israel – the bitter enemy of the Islamic republic and determined opponent of its nuclear programme – killing a senior Iranian military figure.
The Revolutionary Guards said Allahdadi had been dispatched to to operate as an adviser to help its government and people in their fight against “Takfiri-Salafi terrorists” – Iranian terminology for Sunni jihadi extremists.
It has also emerged that among the Hezbollah fighters killed in Sunday’s attack was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Hezbollah’s late commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who is believed to have been assassinated by Israel in Damascus in 2008. Another Hezbolllah commander, Mohamad Issa, also known as Abu Issa, was killed on Sunday, according to the Lebanese group.
Iran is a staunch supporter of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, providing both with military and financial support. The Syrian conflict has cost many Iranian lives in recent years, including many members of the Revolutionary Guards. In February 2013, another senior Guards figure, General Hassan Shateri, was killed while travelling from Syria to . Iran blamed his death on “the agents and supporters of the Zionist regime”.
Syria gives Iran physical access to Lebanon and Hezbollah, which is strategically important for Tehran’s leaders because of the group’s geographical position in respect to Israel. does not recognise Israel as a country and usually refers to it as “the Zionist regime”.
After the 2006 war between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, Iran’s elite forces bolstered their presence in southern Lebanon, saying they were willing to revamp the region’s war-stricken infrastructure. This became a contentious issue for Tel Aviv but boosted the popularity of Iran among Hezbollah supporters.
Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the Israeli attack in Quneitra, which is on the Syrian controlled side of the Golan Heights. “This incident once again showed that Syria is part of the confrontation with the Zionist regime and Hezbollah is still standing firmly against Israel’s occupation and foreigners’ interference in the affairs of the regional nations,” the Iranian foreign ministry said, according to Fars.