Syrian rebels killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander traveling in the war-torn country this week, Iranian officials and a rebel leader said Thursday.
“Commander Hassan Shateri was martyred en route from Damascus to Beirut at the hands of Zionist regime mercenaries and backers,” a spokesman for Iran’s elite fighting force was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.
Syria and its supporters, including Iran, often refer to rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as “mercenaries” or “terrorists.”
Reuters reported that a Syrian opposition commander confirmed Shateri had been killed. He said the attack by rebel fighters happened near the Syrian town of Zabadani, near the Lebanon border.
There were conflicting reports about when the deadly incident happened, with some reports saying Wednesday and others Tuesday.
A funeral was held for Shateri on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
Iran has been a strong backer of Assad during the near two-year uprising against his regime, which has claimed the lives of nearly 70,000 people.
Shateri was in charge of Tehran’s reconstruction efforts in Lebanon and his death highlights the support that Iran, the region’s Shiite power, provides to both Syria and the Lebanese militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, the AP noted.
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