Israel was responsible for the assassination of a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria, a faction of Syrian rebels said Friday according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to reports, the man was killed in his car while traveling from Damascus to Beirut. However, the Syrian rebels dispute this account, claiming that the Iranian commander, identified as Gen. Hassan Shateri, also known as Hessam Khoshnevis, had actually been assassinated on January 30, when Israel attacked a convoy and military factory in Jamaraya, Syria, near the Lebanon border.
The account seems in line with Iranian allegations that “suspected Israeli agents” carried out the attack.
Syrian rebels have repeatedly accused Tehran of sending fighters to help Syrian President Bashar Assad crush the 22-month-old uprising, a charge Iran has denied.
Iran has strongly backed Assad during the uprising in which the United Nations says nearly 70,000 people have been killed.
Details of Shateri’s killing, which Iranian news agencies said happened on Tuesday, were sketchy and Iran’s envoy to Beirut drew a link with Israel.
Forty eight hours after his death no rebel brigade had claimed responsibility.
“He served the oppressed, supporting the resistance to Israel,” Iran’s ambassador to Beirut Ghazanfar Roknabadi told reporters as he received condolences from senior Lebanese officials.
“Assassinating this dear martyr is a clear sign that the Zionist enemy does not accept his successful work.”
In Tehran, a funeral service was held for Khoshnevis on Thursday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported, attended by senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.
Tehran’s IRNA news agency said Shateri was a military engineer during the 1980-88 conflict between Iran and Iraq, and later operated in Afghanistan.