A soldier with close ties to Ghassem Suleimani, the chief-commander of the Qods Revolutionary Guards, was among those killed in Syria on January 18.
Jihad Mughniya was killed when shots were fired from an Israeli helicopter over the town of Mazraeh-ol-aml in the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights, along with other members of the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Hezbollah reported that six people were killed in a military operation carried out by Israeli forces on Sunday. According to reports in the Arab media, six Iranian commanders were also killed in the incident, although the deaths have not been confirmed.
Mashregh News website, which is closely linked to the Iranian military, reported that commanders were among those who died. Many of the “martyred Hezbollah members had gone to Syria to train popular forces,” it said, referring to fighters supporting the regime of Bashar al Assad. Many reports did not specifically name Mughniya.
Baztab webside, affiliated to Mohsen Rezai, the former chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, also reported that Iranian commanders had been killed. Baztab quoted Israeli sources that said that many of those killed had been tasked with setting up missile-launching platforms in Syria. The site also published a video of two speeches by Mughniya. In one of them, the young officer is dressed in military uniform and addresses the crowd in the manner of a senior commander.
The Local Yazdi News site reported that General Allahdadi, former commander of the Revolutionary Guards brigade in the Province of Yazd, was among those who died.
Suleimani has lost several close military friends in Syria and Iraq in recent months. In early January, he traveled to Ahwaz to attend the funeral ceremony of one of Iran’s highest military commanders in Iraq.
But the death of Jihad Mughniya, who was the son of Emad Mughniya, a prominent figure in Lebanese Hezbollah killed in in Syria in 2007, will be a particularly hard blow for the commander. Mughniya was said to travel to Iran often, and the last photograph of the officer to be published in the media showed him with Suleimani.
Exactly a year ago, Iranian media made much of the presence of Mughniya at Suleimaini’s mother’s funeral.
“There was a good-looking young man among the guests,” Fars News Agency reported. The paper, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, described the relationship between Mughniya and Suleimani as “intimate.” “Every few minutes they whispered to one another,” the agency said. “Hajj Ghasem asked him to stand next to him, introducing him to several commanders. A smile immediately broke out on the face of whoever he was introduced to.” Fars reported that each of the commanders embraced the young Mughniya after being introduced.
In September 2013, Fars reported that “the relationship between Jihad and Hajj Ghassem went beyond a simple relationship of a young man with his father’s friend. They are often mistaken for father and son.”
On Sunday, January 18, Iranian media published photographs of Jihad Mughniya with the sons of several Iranian commanders who had been killed in the Iran-Iraq war.
Komeyl Baqerzadeh, the son of a a Revolutionary Guards chief commander wrote on his Google Plus page that he said goodbye to Mughniya two weeks ago.
Lebanese Hezbollah has published and officially confirmed the names of most of those killed, but has issued no further statements about the attack.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Israel shortly following the raid. “Netanyahu has been banging doors to prevent the success of nuclear negotiations for a long time now,” he said, referring to talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries. His comment suggests that the political fallout from Sunday’s military operations is already underway.