A senior Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Al Qods Brigade, Abu Alfazl Sarabian, was killed in Iraq in an attack by “Israel and the United States” on July 19, 2019, according to the Iranian Broadcasting’s Young Journalists Club online publication. A funeral service was held in Tehran before Sarabian’s body was returned for burial in his hometown Kermanshah.1
The attack was carried out on the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force (Hashd al-Shaab) in Armeli in the Salah a-Din governorate of Iraq north of Baghdad. The Iraqi sources said Sarabian was killed as a result of an explosion in a storage area for solid fuel for missiles.
In the photograph, Abu Alfazl Sarabian is holding an Austrian sniper rifle, the Steyr HS 50 that was supplied to Iran by Austria. Subsequently, Iran copied the model, renamed it the Sayyad AM-50 and provided it to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organizations in Gaza. Syria produces its own version, the Golan S-01.2
The Iranian announcement of the death of its IRGC officer in the “Israeli-American” attack at an Iraqi base may raise regional tensions. The attack would be another stage in the campaign Israel is conducting against Iranian presence in Syria, in general, and along the Israel-Syria border, in particular. Israel is accused of assassinating Mashur Zidan, a senior Hizbullah official near Damascus on July 27, 2019. Zidan, like a former associate (now dead), Samir Kuntar, was tasked with recruiting and planning for attacks along Israel’s border on the Golan Heights. Israel’s campaign is also aimed at Iran’s logistical bases in Iraq away from the front, including a missile storage facility north of Baghdad, and against the Ashraf base, formerly used by the opposition organization Mujahedin al Haq.
Asharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab publication based in London, quoted unnamed sources saying, “The strikes targeted Iranian ‘advisors’ and a ballistic missile shipment that had recently arrived from Iran to Iraq.”3 The “attack was carried out by an Israeli F-35 fighter jet,” they added.
Iran and Hizbullah continue to plan for a possible conflict with Israel that could erupt in the shadow of the crisis between Iran and the United States and Britain. Iran is attempting to find alternative storage sites – maybe in Iraq — for its missiles, rockets, and other materiel it transfers to Syria in light of the repeated attacks on its Syrian depots. Now, according to foreign reports, even the infrastructure Iran is attempting to establish in Iraq is vulnerable. It is not clear how Iran will react to the actions against its interests in Iraq.
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