An aide to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei has been quoted today vowing revenge against Israel for the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) Gen. Hassan Shateri, who operated in Syria and Lebanon under the alias of Hesam Khoshnevis.
Shateri was killed earlier this month, however the method of his assassination and by precisely whom, is shrouded in mystery and conflicting stories from Syrian rebels, the Syrian government and Iran.
Iran accuses Israel, but provides no details as to what their accusation is based on; only saying that Syrian rebels were the trigger men. Israel has not commented at all on the killing. Iran’s version of the story is that the general was “martyred on his way from Damascus to Beirut by mercenaries.”
Shateri’s military resume begins with the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War; where he served as an engineer and carries on into Iranian clandestine operations in Afghanistan before going to Lebanon to oversee the training of Hezbollah terrorists. At some point after the civil war in Syria escalated the general took his talents along with several Hezbollah terror cells to support the government of Pres. Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
For Iran to simultaneously blame Syrian rebels for the assassination while maintaining Israel was involved, likely means that Iran believes the two entities collaborated in the effort. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has stated that Shateri was killed in the Jan. 30 Israeli airstrike on a border town where Hezbollah maintains a major base.
According to the FSA, these details were not disclosed immediately afterward because it would have “incurred consequences”. Israel acknowledges making an airstrike on a convoy in the area. That convoy was carrying Russian built SA-17 surface-to-air missiles from Syrian to Hezbollah control and would have been a threat to Israeli air superiority over Hezbollah controlled southern Lebanon.
If Iran was involved in that transfer of SA-17 missiles then the general would likely have overseen that operation. And that alone is more revealing of Iran’s involvement in the and on which side of the Syrian conflict than is generally believed in the West.
It was already suspected that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were operating in Syria in support of the Assad regime, a key ally of Iran in the Levant. The general’s death involved in an operation such the SA-17 transfer would expose to open daylight that Iran is heavily involved with a direct stake in Assad’s survival and his retention of power.
Many Western experts and the fringe ‘Islarmist media’ in America have maintained since the first protests in Tunisia that the entire Arab Spring movement and Syria’s rebellion against Assad were the result of a grand master plan hatched in Tehran and carried out by al-Qaida; a flawed belief which even Pres. Assad has seized on labeling all things ‘rebellious’ as a terrorist plot.
These suppositions totally ignore many facts on the ground during and since the Arab Spring and in the Levant in general. The most glaring of which is the Assad dynasty’s decades long support of terror groups as a tool of their foreign policy.
However, the biggest bombshell that may yet surface from the Iranian general’s death may be that there was cooperation between the Syrian opposition and Israeli intelligence. It’s not impossible to imagine given the threat to both posed by Syrian WMD.
Syrian rebels may well have provided intelligence on movement of Syrian WMD and SA-17’s in exchange for Israel taking out the Iranian general who more than any Syrian commander has been the largest threat to Syrian rebel forces.
Another wildcard is Turkey’s intelligence service, the MIT. Syrian WMD is just as much of a threat to Turkey as to anyone else in opposition to the Assad regime; and the two nations have already come to blows briefly on more than one occasion due to the Syrian Civil War.
The loudest howls of protest against Israel’s airstrike in Syria came not from Bashar Assad, but from Assad’s second most bitter foreign enemy, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.