Iranian media close to Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) on March 7 reported the death of a senior Guards commander in Syria, in what other reports say was an assassination.
Farhad Dabirian was the former commander in Palmyra, Syria and the mayor of a town and a Shiite shrine called Zaynabiya, near Damascus, according to Fars news agency in Iran. He was killed March 6 at the same location, but Fars does not disclose the circumstances of his death.
Fars has published photos of Dabirian in the uniform of an IRGC commander, next to the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Syria.
But Fars does not specify if Dabirian was an officer of regular IRGC or a member of Iran’s extra-territorial Qods (Quds) Force. Usually those IRGC personnel who serve outside Iran are members of Qods.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Human Rights Monitor based in London says Dabirian was close to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese Hezbollah and fought against ISIS in Palmyra. The Monitor says he was assassinated in Zaynabiya, without providing more details.
After continuing victories of Bashar Assad’s forces in the past two years, supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Damascus area has been relatively quiet except air and missile attacks by Israel on Iran-linked military targets.
Dabirian’s death comes two months after the targeted killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone near Baghdad airport on January 3. This is the second IRGC officer killed following Soleimani’s death. A month ago, Asghar Pashapour, a senior commander was also killed in Syria.
The top Qods Force liaison in Yemen, Abdolreza Shahlai was also reportedly targeted the same night when Soleimani was killed, but he survived. In December 2019, the United States had announced a $15 million reward for Shahlai as a key financial and logistics figure of the Qods Force.