Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander killed by roadside bomb in Syria

Colonel Davoud Jafari, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander killed by a roadside bomb on Wednesday
Colonel Davoud Jafari, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander killed by a roadside bomb on Wednesday

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander who was once involved in the detainment of American sailors in the Persian Gulf has been killed in a roadside bomb near the Syrian capital, the paramilitary force said on Wednesday.

Colonel Davoud Jafari had been deployed to Syria in a military advisory role and was working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerospace arm, which develops and operates Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

He was killed with “a makeshift bomb planted by the roadside near Damascus [on Monday] by associates of the Zionist [Israeli] regime,” the IRGC said on its website.

The statement warned that there would “undoubtedly” be retaliation against Israel.

Jafari, a drone and air defence expert, was killed alongside his Syrian bodyguard when a roadside bomb struck their car in the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, according to an opposition war monitor.

The bodyguard was killed instantly while Jafari was taken to a nearby hospital and succumbed to his wounds shortly afterward, said Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

An official with an Iran-backed group confirmed to Associated Press that Jafari was struck by a roadside bomb near the Damascus International Airport, south of the capital. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bomb was planted to explode in the direction of the car, suggesting a relatively sophisticated device.

A photo reportedly of Jafari’s car showed a grey sedan riddled with round shrapnel holes and the windows blown out.

According to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, Jafari was one of the IRGC members responsible for the seizure of two US Navy command boats carrying 10 American sailors in the Persian Gulf in January 2016. The sailors entered Iran’s territorial waters owing to a navigation error and were held for 15 hours by the IRGC, who later published photos of the sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads.

Jafari’s role in the incident was later recognised in a meeting where he received the gratitude of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

11-year civil war

It was not clear when Jafari deployed to Syria, where Iran has provided critical support enabling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to survive the country’s 11-year civil war.

Israel did not confirm involvement in Jafari’s death and rarely acknowledges its covert attacks. But the use of a planted bomb suggests the deployment of on-the-ground agents, a risky operation that could indicate the target was considered particularly high value.

In contrast, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside regime-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, as it works to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Iran has acknowledged the deaths of dozens of its forces in Syria, though it says they are only there in a military advisory capacity. Tehran has also sent weaponry from Iran and deployed pro-Iranian fighters from around the region to shore up Damascus.

Israel has acknowledged targeting the bases of Lebanon’s Iran-allied Hizbollah militia, which has thousands of fighters in Iran.

Pro-Iran Iraqi Shiite militias are also serving in Syria.

On Nov 8 at least 15 pro-Iran fighters were killed in an air strike on a convoy carrying fuel along the Iraq-Syrian border in an attack that was blamed on but not claimed by Israel.

The head of the IRGC aerospace force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, recently bragged of Iran’s missile and drone capabilities.

“We are at the world level in the field of unmanned aircraft and UAVs, and have challenged the trend that so-called superpowers have already instigated for decades,” he said on Sunday, according to Tehran Times.

He also recently claimed that Iran had successfully developed hypersonic missiles, though the Pentagon later said it was “sceptical of these reports”.

Published by anthonyhayble

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