The Revolutionary Guard in Iran.
The Revolutionary Guard in Iran, during a drill. Photo by AP
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A senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard was killed in recent days in Syria, according to media reports.

Hezbollah's television channel Al-Manar reported that the man was killed in an attack by Syrian rebels. Additional information was not provided.

This is the first time a death of an Iranian official in Syria is reported. In several incidents in the past, some mid-level Hezbollah officials were killed in the Syrian civil war.

Syria is receiving extended military and intelligence assistance from Iran and Hezbollah as part of the effort to keep Assad in power.

Al-Manar did not disclose the name of the Iranian official and only described him as the head of an Iranian agency responsible for "rebuilding Lebanon." According to the report, the incident occurred on Syrian soil when the Iranian official was on his way back from Damascus to Lebanon.

An Iranian independent news website - mashreghnews.ir - reported earlier that the name of the Iranian official was Gen. Hassan Shateri, a commander in the Guard's Quds Force. The report said the attack was carried out by "mercenaries of the Zionist regime," however the credibility of the report is unclear.

The report added that Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, the head of the Guard's Quds Force, visited Shateri's family to express his condolences. The website did not provide additional details about his death.

The Quds Force is Iran's main organization dealing with international terrorist activity with the cooperation of several different terrorist organizations which are backed by Iran. In the past, Israeli intelligence officials described Soleimani as the central figure in Iran's terrorist network.

However, the report saying Syrian rebels are behind the attack seems a more reasonable explanation for the incident, especially when it comes from an official source such as Hezbollah.