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After Two Years…

Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian Major General, was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. The drone had targeted Soleimani while he was on his way to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Soleimani was the Commander of the Quds Force, one of five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and was considered the second most powerful person of the Islamic Republic, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Two years later (on August 22, 2022), General Abolfazl Alijani, a senior Commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guardian Core, was killed while serving as a military adviser in Syria. Although the Iranian state media has confirmed the news, the West Asian nation remains silent on the demise of its senior Army officer in Syria. Initially, the Iranian defence experts hinted that Israel might have a role to play in General Alijani’s untimely death.

Although the IRGC is a part of the Iranian National Army, the US Administration has blacklisted this wing of the Iranian Forces as a terrorist outfit. Meanwhile, the official news agency of Iran has referred to the slain general as Defender of the Sanctuary. This title is usually conferred on the members of the Iranian Army when they visit Iraq or Syria for official purposes at the request of their Governments. Tehran has claimed that the Iranian Army personnel visit Iraq or Syria as defence advisers, only if they get an invitation from the Governments of those countries. General Alijani received such an invitation from Damascus.

In the past, a number of Iranian Army commanders and personnel were attacked in Syria, and Tehran accused Israel of carrying out those attacks. The last rites of several IRGC members were performed in different Iranian cities in the first week of August, as they reportedly went to Syria for official purposes. The Iranian authorities received the bodies after the identification process through DNA testing.

In March 2021, the IRGC claimed that two of their soldiers were killed in an Israeli strike in Syria. At that time, Iran warned Israel, stressing that the Jewish State would have to pay a heavy price for killing Iranian soldiers. In the past, the Israeli Forces accepted responsibility for the attacks on the Iranian soldiers many a time. However, Jerusalem still remains silent on the death of General Alijani.

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