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BEIRUT: A commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and a lower-ranking Iranian fighter have been killed fighting the militant Islamic State group in Syria in recent days, Iranian med­ia reported on Sunday.

The Revolutionary Gua­rds, Iran’s most powerful military force which also oversees an economic empire worth billions of dollars, have been fighting in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for several years.

An Iranian official told the Tasnim news agency last year that more than 1,000 Iranians have been killed in Syria. Senior members of the Guards have been among those killed.

Kheyrollah Samadi, a Guards commander in charge of a unit in Syria, died on Thursday in fighting in the Albu Kamal region, bordering Iraq, according to Fars News.

Samadi was killed in clashes with IS, according to the Ghatreh news site. Iranian media have previously reported on fighting in that area between Iran’s Shia militia allies and IS.

The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, IS’s last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hezbollah said on Sunday.

Samadi, who fought in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s and had retired from the Iranian military before signing on to go to Syria, was killed by a mortar explosion, Fars News, a news agency, said.

Iranian news sites posted pictures on Sunday of Samadi with Qassem Sole­imani, head of the Guar­ds branch responsible for operations outside Iran.

The Syrian army and loyalist militiamen on Sunday retook full control of Albu Kamal from the IS group, a military source said, ousting the jihadists from their last urban stronghold in Syria.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017