By Mohamad Misto and Ethem Emre Ozcan
DEIR EZ-ZOR /ANKARA (AA) – Muslim Shahdan, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was killed Monday in an airstrike along the Syrian-Iraqi border, according to local sources.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike, in which unidentified warplanes targeted the commander and his three bodyguards near a village in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province.
The attack was carried out days after the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Deir ez-Zor is a major link between Iran and Lebanon.
Pipelines and trade routes from Iraq and Jordan also pass through the province.
With the help of Russia and Iran-backed militias, the central and western parts of Deir ez-Zor fell to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime after Daesh/ISIS terrorists retreated from the region in November 2017.
The majority of Iran-backed foreign militias fighting for the Assad regime's forces are located in Deir ez-Zor.
These groups, operating among the Sunni-majority population, are being commanded by the IRGC.
They hold sect-based religious education in the predominantly Sunni region, where they also oversee the opening of Shia prayer centers.
Deir ez-Zor, bordering the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is currently under the control of the YPG/PKK terrorist organization.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz