The influence of the Iranian brigadier general who was murdered in Syria

Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the Iranian brigadier general who died in an attack in the Syrian capital, is considered the “brain” commanding three key fronts for Tehran.

When the consulate of the Iranian embassy, ​​located on Mezzeh Street in the center of the Syrian capital Damascus, collapsed after loud explosions on the evening of April 1, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lost its team. top commanders on three fronts that are very important to them, including Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

IRGC officials confirmed that Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, 64, was one of 7 people killed in the attack, believed to have been caused by a missile from an Israeli F-35 fighter. He is the highest-ranking Iranian official killed in an attack since the US launched a missile that killed IRGC general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020.

Iranian state media describes him as a “military advisor” in Syria, having commanded all IRGC activities in Lebanon and Syria before 2016. However, observers assess General Zahedi’s power and influence. much bigger than that.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, senior official of the IRGC’s Quds task force. Image: Al Mayadeen

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Zahedi is leading all activities of the Quds task force, an elite force of the IRGC, on the three fronts of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. .

When the raid occurred, Zahedi was in a meeting with his deputy, Brigadier General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, a close assistant, and three operational staff officers of the Quds task force in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Iranian officials revealed that the meeting also included representatives of Palestinian armed groups involved in the Gaza Strip war, including some leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Iranian Ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari accused the Israeli army of deploying two F-35 stealth fighters, firing at least 6 missiles from the Golan Heights to penetrate the Syrian air defense network, completely destroying the consulate building. where General Zahedi was chairing the meeting. It is unclear where Israeli intelligence got the information about the meeting from.

The scene of the raid in the Syrian capital on April 1. Video: X/TreyYingst

Al Mayadeen, a pro-Iranian television station in Lebanon, called General Zahedi “the leader of the Quds task force responsible for supporting the revolution of the Palestinian people and liberating the region including Syria and Lebanon”. He is also the deputy chief of staff of the IRGC, having held leadership positions in the air force and army of this force in the 2000s.

The 64-year-old brigadier general joined the IRGC in 1980, less than a year after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. He was a divisional commander of the IRGC, directly fighting in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s.

According to Israeli intelligence, Zahedi was selected by General Soleimani to establish and command the Lebanese Corps under Quds in 1998, supporting technical and military training for the Hezbollah armed forces. He was also among the group of IRGC leaders dispatched to Syria to support President Bashar Al-Assad against rebel forces during the civil war that broke out in 2011.

The US Treasury Department in 2010 imposed sanctions targeting General Zahedi, accusing him of being “a liaison between Syrian intelligence agencies and the Hezbollah organization, responsible for providing weapons aid to Hezbollah” in Lebanon.

Rescuers put out a fire at the Iranian consulate in Damascus after the attack. Image: AFP

After the death of General Soleimani, the successor as commander of the Quds task force was General Esmail Qaani. However, Israeli intelligence assessed that Qaani had far less influence than Brigadier General Zahedi, who inherited Soleimani’s “legacy” on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts.

Israel believes that General Qaani is “too modest”, tends to favor Hezbollah and is not knowledgeable enough about the region like his predecessor due to not being fluent in Arabic. Therefore, all IRGC combat instructions to close armed organizations in Lebanon and Syria must go through Mr. Zahedi. Israeli intelligence also accused Zahedi of participating in planning attacks within Israel.

“Zahedi’s role in the IRGC is no different than the glue between the Assad regime in Syria and the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon. One side is Iran’s oldest state ally, the other side is an armed organization. the most successful page backed by Iran,” said Behnam Ben Tableblu, a Middle East expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) research organization in the US.

Name (Theo Lorient Today, Al Mayadeen, Fox, YNet)

By Editor

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