Who are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders Israel killed in Syria?

Who are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders Israel killed in Syria?
Despite explicit warnings of retaliation, Iran had not responded to the previous attacks by Israel on IRGC commanders in Syria
5 min read
09 April, 2024
Apart from the 1 April attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, other killings of IRGC commanders and cadres have remained unanswered. [Getty]

Officials in Tehran are consistently quick to escalate their war rhetoric, sending threatening messages, organizing propaganda campaigns, and plastering enormous murals in response to US and Israeli attacks targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members outside Iran.

However, Iran's actual response to the killing of its high-ranking IRGC commanders in Iraq and Syria has shown restraint from escalating the risks of an all-out war. They have even refrained from what they consider "proportionate military responses."

The 1 April air raid on Iran's consulate in Damascus, which resulted in the death of seven IRGC members, including high-ranking commanders, was the latest of such attacks attributed to Israel. In response, Iranian officials vowed to retaliate and make Israel "regret" the move.

In Tehran, in front of 10 Western country embassies, billboards were set up with a threatening message in English and Hebrew, reading "We take revenge," while some hardliners demanded the IRGC raid Israel-supporter embassies in Europe as a response.

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Despite these bold declarations of revenge, during the last Friday prayer of Ramadan on 5 April, prayer Imams in several Iranian cities suggested that Iran's response would be "well-thought" and with "patience." One of these Friday prayer Imams, all appointed by Iran's supreme leader, was Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Ameli, in the northwestern city of Ardebil.

During the Friday prayer sermon in Ardebil, he said: "Circumstances dictate that we refrain from seeking revenge on Israel driven by emotion. While the necessity of retaliation is undeniable, it must be executed with thorough consideration and strategic planning."

Yet, it is unclear if Iran will take military action in response to the killing of the IRGC commanders or rule out the option of retaliation. However, due to the high rank of Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, 64, who was killed in the 1 April raid, many suggest Tehran has no option other than military retaliation.

According to local media, Zahedi was the most high-ranking military personnel after the commander of IRGC Qods forces, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by the US in Iraq. In response to that attack, Tehran hit the US airbase Ain al-Asad in Iraq with ballistic missiles. However, later, it was revealed that the time of the attack was announced to Iraqi officials, who later informed their American counterparts.

Apart from that attack, other killings of IRGC commanders and cadres have remained unanswered. According to Hamshahri Daily, the intensity and number of Israel's attacks on IRGC forces in Syria have dramatically increased since the beginning of the war in Gaza.

Between March 2023 and 2024, Israel carried out six military attacks against the IRGC forces in Syria, resulting in 17 deaths, while from 2014 to 2023, only 10 IRGC forces in Syria were killed in Israeli attacks, reported Hamshahri.

Here are some of the most important IRGC commanders in Syria assassinated by attacks attributed to Israel.

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Colonel Behrouz Wahedi: Iranian media close to the establishment reported that on 26 March 2024, one Iranian IRGC advisor, identified as Behrouz Wahedi, was killed in a missile attack on a villa in Syria's Deir al-Zor. However, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 16 other IRGC forces were also killed in the raid, along with the advisor who held the rank of colonel.

Brigadier General Hojatollah Omidvar: On 20 January 2024, Brigadier General Hojatollah Omidvar, along with four other IRGC officers, was killed in a raid on a residential building in the Al-Mazzah neighbourhood in Damascus. Omidvar, known by his nom de guerre Haj Sadegh, was one of Gassem Soleimani's deputies and operated as a high-ranking intelligence officer at IRGC Qods force. The other IRGC force personnel killed in that raid were Ali Aghazadeh, Hossein Mohammadi, Saeed Karimi, and Mohammad Amin Samadi.

Brigadier General Seyyed Reza Mousavi: This IRGC commander, also known by his nom de guerre, Seyyed Razi, was killed in an Israeli missile attack in the Sayyidah Zaynab neighbourhood of Damascus on 25 December 2023. Before his death, minimal information was available about this Quds Forces commander; however, after his death, the establishment's media released a photo of Seyyed Razi next to Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the commander of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Local media wrote that he was a long-time associate of Qassem Soleimani.

Brigadier Generals Taghizadeh and Ataei: On 2 December 2023, two IRGC Qods Forces commanders, identified as Brigadier Generals Panah Taghizadeh and Mohammad Ali Ataei, were killed in a missile attack conducted from the occupied Golan Heights on Sayyidah Zaynab neighbourhood in the Syrian capital. Not much information was revealed about these two commanders, but sources close to the IRGC said that Taghizadeh was an aerospace engineer related to Iran's missile program.

Colonel Davoud Jafari: Jafari, killed on 22 November 2022 with a roadside bomb, was an IRGC Aerospace Forces colonel. Despite not being a very high-ranking officer, he had played a role in some critical military incidents in the past years. The Tasnim news agency, closely affiliated with the IRGC, wrote that he was one of the IRGC forces who arrested 10 American marines in the Persian Gulf in 2016. He was also responsible for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2022 that claimed the lives of 176 civilians.

The complete list of IRGC forces and commanders killed in Syria is much longer than this. Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and the full military support that Tehran provided to Damascus, several other IRGC cadres were killed in Syria by Israel; none of those yet responded with retaliatory attacks.