Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with the IRGC members involved in the arrest of U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf in January 2016.
Iran says that Colonel Davoud Jafari, a senior commander with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has been killed in Syria by a roadside bomb in an attack Tehran blamed on Israel.
The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency on November 23 published a statement from the group in which it said Jafari was an adviser to the IRGC's aerospace division. The statement added that Israel was responsible for the operation, though it presented no evidence to back up the claim.
Tasnim published a photo of Jafari next to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which showed that he was involved in the arrest of U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf in January 2016. Independent sources have not yet confirmed the Tasnim report and Israel has not reacted to it either. Tehran admits it has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in a civil war since at least 2012 in the form of military advisers and volunteers, but denies sending its own troops. Even so, Iranian media have reported the death of a handful of Iranian commanders along with hundreds of Iranian fighters in Syria. Iran and Israel have been engaged in a shadow war for years, worsening already strained relations between them. Further heightening tensions are deadlocked negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
In the absence of a deal that would curb Iran's sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Tehran has reduced its commitments and expanded its nuclear activities, raising concern in Israel.
The news of Jafari's death comes after an Israeli official blamed Iran for a November 15 strike on the Pacific Zircon tanker, which is managed by Israeli-controlled Eastern Pacific Shipping. Tehran has also accused Israel of carrying out a recent spate of assassinations and sabotage attacks inside the Islamic republic.