Iraqi sources told several Arab media outlets on Monday that an airstrike near the Iraq-Syria border killed a commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The strike reportedly occurred either late Saturday or early Sunday, and some accounts say it was a drone strike.
Some of the sources identified the slain military leader as Muslim Shahdan, a senior IRGC commander. Other reports say the IRGC commander could not be identified, but all accounts say three other people were killed in the same event. The commander was reportedly struck in a vehicle that was entering Syria from Iraq.
Iran has yet to confirm or deny the report, but if it is true, the IRGC commander’s killing comes just days after prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed inside Iran and would ratchet up tensions in the region even more. All indications point to Israel being responsible for Fakhrizadeh’s death.
Israel has also been known to launch airstrikes inside Syria against what it deems Iranian-linked targets, something they stepped up in recent weeks. Israel has also been making a big deal about Iran’s presence in Syria recently. Last week, Israel demanded the UN Security Council take action against Iran’s presence in Syria and dropped leaflets in the country urging the military to cut ties with Iran.
While Israeli airstrikes so far east in Syria are apparently rare, they do happen. The US also occasionally carries out airstrikes in eastern Syria against Shia militias. In January, the US killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq by drone strike.
Since Fakhrizadeh was killed, Iranian officials have made it clear they will make a measured response in hopes of avoiding provoking a war with the US before President Trump leaves office. Israel seems eager to start a broader military conflict with Iran before January 20th.