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Iranian Guards commander killed in Syria

- February 14, 2013 - Updated 2116 PKT - From Web Edition

BEIRUT: Assailants shot dead an Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief in an ambush on the way from Damascus towards the Lebanese capital, the Iranian authorities said on Thursday.

Iran's elite fighting force named him as commander Hassan Shateri, in a statement on its website that said he was killed on Tuesday.

"Commander Hassan Shateri was martyred en route from Damascus to Beirut at the hands of Zionist regime mercenaries and backers," the force's spokesman, Ramezan Sherif, said in the statement.

Sherif identified Shateri as a Revolutionary Guards commander who was also head of the Iranian Committee for the Reconstruction of Lebanon.

A strong ally of the Damascus regime, Tehran often refers to Syrian rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad as "terrorists" with ties to Israel.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he "strongly condemned this terrorist act."

Cited by Iranian media, Salehi said he "valued the selfless services of

this commander of Islam and his tireless efforts in the reconstruction of the damaged areas in the southern Lebanon."

Last month, US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford criticised Iran's

"unhelpful" role in the Syrian conflict.

"They are sending arms, they are sending other kinds of experts, and in fact we know that they are sending Iran Revolutionary Guard" members, said Ford, who who was recalled from Damascus in October 2011 because of security threats.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Ali Jaafari, said in September that members of the Quds Force, the Guards' elite special operations unit, were in Syria and Lebanon but insisted they were only there to pro

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