Member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force Asghar Pashapour was announced killed in Aleppo’s battles on Sunday, according to Iranian sources.
Tehran’s militia participation in the attack on Idlib was confirmed in line with the Iranian Foreign Ministry's support for Damascus.
Sources said Pashapour was close to slain Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad early January.
According to the Iranian Television Agency, he was killed “in confrontations with militant groups.”
His military rank in the IRGC was not revealed, but information indicates that he has accompanied Soleimani in Syria since the beginning of the war between the regime forces and the Syrian opposition factions.
IRGC intelligence agency’s Mashreq website has described Pashapour as “the man who was always concerned about Soleimani's life” and published a picture of them both gathered with other fighters at a site in Syria.
Young Journalists Club (YJC) news agency, for its part, released a video of a conversation going on between Soleimani and Pashapour in a site in Syria, in which the latter was asking Soleimani not to advance to frontlines.
Iran has not yet officially revealed a statistic on the number of its forces in Syria despite the announcement of the death of hundreds, including senior IRGC leaders over the past years.
In October 2015, Pashapour's brother-in-law died in an IRGC hospital in Tehran from his wounds after 13 months of fighting in Syria.
IRGC news agencies reported back then that he was subject to an assassination attempt using “chemical weapons” 40 days before his death announcement, without indicating who was behind the attempt.
Western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Iranian-backed militias are participating with the regime forces in battles to control Idlib, which are believed to be part of Tehran's “response” to Soleimani's assassination.
Iran had prevented its militias and Lebanese Hezbollah from participating in Idlib battles. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a few days ago that “six foreign pro-Iranian fighters were killed during the ongoing battles with the factions in the southern countryside of Aleppo.”