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Official: Iran to avenge killing of Guard commander in Syria

Feb. 16, 2013 5:41 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 17, 2013 7:27 P.M.)
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will soon exact revenge on Israel for the recent killing of a Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria, an aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted on Saturday as saying.

Iran said on Thursday that an Iranian military commander named Hessam Khoshnevis, also called Hassan Shateri in some news accounts, had been killed in Syria by rebels fighting President Bashar Assad, an ally of Tehran.

Syrian rebels accuse Iran's Revolutionary Guard of sending forces to help Assad crush their 22-month-old uprising, a charge denied by the Islamic Republic.

Details of Khoshnevis's killing are sketchy and various accounts have emerged. But Iran's envoy to Beirut Ghazanfar Roknabadi on Thursday drew a link between his killing and Israel.

Ali Shirazi, the representative of Khamenei to the Guards' elite Quds force, said on Friday evening Iran's "resolve against Israel" had only grown stronger with Khoshnevis's killing.

"Our enemies should also know that we will quickly get revenge for (the death of) Haj Hassan (Shateri) from the Israelis, and the enemies cannot shut off the Iranian people with such stupid acts," Shirazi was by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) on Saturday as saying.

Israel has not commented on the killing.

Israel has hinted at military action against Iran if Tehran continues with a nuclear program which Israel says is aimed at developing a weapon. Iran says its program is peaceful.

Israel is believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state.

The Revolutionary Guards media office said this week that Khoshnevis had been "martyred on his way from Damascus to Beirut by mercenaries".

The state news agency IRNA said Khoshnevis was a military engineer during the 1980-88 conflict between Iran and Iraq, and had later worked in Afghanistan.

Officials stressed Khoshnevis had been engaged in civilian reconstruction in Lebanon for the last seven years. Iran backs the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, which fought a brief war with Israel seven years ago and allied with Assad.
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