Senior Iranian Military Officer Killed in Iraq

Revolutionary Guards Corp officer Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi had been serving as a 'military adviser'; ISIS claims responsibility.

Ari Soffer,

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC)
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC)

ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing a senior officer from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) in Iraq.

Earlier Sunday, a statement from the elite Iranian military force declared simply that "Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi was martyred during a mission to advise the army and Iraqi volunteers... in the city of Samarra," north of Baghdad.

Taghavi is due to be buried in Tehran on Monday, the statement added. The circumstances of his death were not publicized.

He had reportedly been serving as a "military adviser" to Iraq army forces and Shia militias fighting Sunni insurgents including ISIS in Samarra, a predominantly Sunni area which is also home to the Askari shrine, one of Shia Islam's holiest sites.

Iran has been deploying "advisers" and even active combat troops in both Syria and Iraq, and Taghavi is only the latest in a steadily growing list of senior IRGC commanders and fighters killed in either country.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have justified their intervention in Syria and more recently Iraq by citing the danger posed to Shia and Allawite minorities by Sunni extremists including ISIS, as well as to holy shrines which Sunnis view as idolatry. ISIS in particular has set about systematically destroying such shrines throughout areas under its control. 

As well as sending fighters, Iran has also helped train and arm local Shia forces in Iraq, and pro-regime militias in Syria.

More recently, earlier this month it was revealed that Iran carried out its first airstrikes inside Iraq against ISIS.

The IRGC is also highly active in Lebanon, alongside Iran's major proxy in the region Hezbollah. Earlier Sunday pictures emerged showing IRGC soldiers posing along Lebanon's border with Israel.