A top Iranian general responsible for shoring up the support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was killed in a battle with anti-Assad forces outside the Syrian city of Aleppo, The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) today.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani died at the hands of “Daesh terrorists” on Thursday while conducting advisory duties, Iranian state media said, quoting a statement by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
Although the statement used the Arab acronym for the extremist group Islamic State to describe those responsible for Gen. Hamedani’s death, the circumstances of his demise weren’t disclosed. The Iranian government, like the Syrian regime, tends to use “Daesh” and “terrorists” as catchall terms for all opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.
Gen. Hamedani, a longtime commander in the elite military unit of the IRGC, is believed to have directly overseen the organization of pro-Assad forces into groups such as the Popular Committees, which were later folded into the so-called National Defense Force.
Those groups were drawn largely drawn from Syria’s Alawite population and number between 150,000 and 190,000 men.
The European Union sanctioned Hamedani in 2011 for human rights violations, due to his role in suppressing the pro-democracy Green Movement protests after the stolen presidential election in 2009.
In January of this year, another IRGC general was killed in an airstrike against a joint Iranian-Hezbollah convoy on the Syrian Golan Heights. Israel is believed to have carried out the airstrike.
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