Reports: Senior Iranian Quds Force Commander Killed in Syria
A high-ranking commander of Iran’s Quds Force was reportedly killed on Sunday during a battle in Aleppo, Syria. Asghar Pashapour is believed to have been one of the most senior members of the elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that oversees military operations in Syria on behalf of Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad. His death would constitute another major blow to Tehran following the killing of Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani a month ago during a US drone strike in Baghdad. Pashapour was reportedly killed while directing a major campaign by Syrian government troops to retake Idlib Province and parts of Aleppo from rebel groups, the most dominant of which has ties to al-Qaida. Meanwhile, Turkish and Syrian soldiers on Monday exchanged fire in northwestern Syria, leading to the deaths of more than 20 people. Ankara last year launched a military incursion into Syria in a bid to rid the shared border region of US-backed Kurdish fighters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers those fighters terrorists due to their alleged connections to Turkish Kurds who have waged a four-decade-long insurgency inside Turkey geared toward achieving autonomy. The Syrian offensive in Idlib and adjacent areas, which began in December, has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more. More than half a million people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which will enter its 10th year in March.