Iranian media have reported that a commander in the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been killed in fighting against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
The IRGC has been fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Tehran, in the country's six-year civil war in Syria.
The state-run Fars news agency reported on November 19 that Khairollah Samadi, an IRGC commander in charge of a unit in Syria, was killed in fighting on November 16 in the town of Abu Kamal, which has since been recaptured by Syrian government forces.
Iran’s Defa Press website, which is close to the Iranian military, said Samadi was wounded and later died in Abu Kamal.
Defa Press described Samadi as a "defender of the shrine," a term used to describe Iranian and other Shi'ite forces trained and deployed in Syria by the IRGC and the Basij force.
Samadi died of shrapnel wounds from a mortar explosion, Fars said. Iranian news sites posted photos on November 19 of Samadi with Qassem Soleimani, the head of IRGC's elite overseas Quds force.
The head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs said in November 2016 that more than 1,000 fighters, including Iranians, Afghans, and Pakistanis, deployed by Iran to Syria had been killed. Senior members of the IRGC have been among those killed.
Iran has provided military support to Assad's forces since at least 2012 in the form of military advisers and volunteers, but it denies sending its own troops.
Even so, Iranian media have reported the death of a handful of Iranian commanders along with hundreds of Iranian fighters.
The IRGC was created after the 1979 revolution to protect Iran's Islamic establishment against internal and external threats and to preserve revolutionary ideals.
It answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In an unprecedented move, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration added the IRGC to its counterterrorism sanctions list in October.
The IRGC is a powerful security and military organization that also controls an estimated 40 percent of the Iranian economy.
With reporting by Defa Press, Fars, and Reuters