Former Iranian commander beheaded in Syria

The former officer is one of more than a dozen individuals from Iran who have been killed in Syria in the past few months

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A former officer in Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards has been killed in fighting in Syria, Iranian media reported on Thursday.

Abdollah Eskandari had travelled to Syria, allegedly to defend the Sayyida Zeinab shrine in Damascus, a Shiite center of pilgrimage, Iranian news website Payvand reported.

Hardline Iranian news website Rajanews reported that Eskandari had been “martyred” on May 26, while other sources state that he was killed on May 22. His body has not been returned to Iran, reports said.

Syrian news websites circulated a photo of a young man holding what was purportedly Eskandari’s decapitated head in his hand.

Ongoing deaths

Eskandari is one of more than a dozen individuals from Iran who have been killed participating in the three-year-long conflict, according to Iranian media, some with the sole purpose of defending the shrine, which sits outside the war-wracked nation’s capital.

Radio Zamaneh, a Netherlands based radio station, reported that over 60 Revolutionary Guards officers have been killed in Syria since 2011.

Iranian officials continually reject accusations that their government is sending military forces to Syria to prop up embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

As a key ally of Syria, Iran says it provides Damascus with military and financial support.

However, Iranian media from time to time report the deaths of Iranian volunteer fighters there.

Earlier this month, U.S. newspaper the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was offering Iranian residency and $500 monthly stipends to thousands of Afghans to fight Syrian rebels – claims dismissed “completely unfounded” by Iran’s foreign ministry, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The claim of the U.S. paper is completely unfounded and is aimed at damaging Iran's reputation in Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in a statement carried by Iranian media.

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