A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has been killed in Syria, Tehran said Friday, and French warplanes carried out fresh airstrikes in the country, as the conflict continued to take on a complex international component.
General Hossein Hamedani was killed by Islamic State fighters earlier this week while advising Syrian troops in the northern region of Aleppo, according to a statement released Friday by the Guards, an elite branch of Iran’s military.
Shi’ite Iran is a key regional ally of Syria. It has provided military and political support for beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad during his four-year-long fight against a wide range of Sunni rebel groups seeking to overthrow him.
The conflict continues to attract a dizzying number of international players.
On Friday, France announced it carried out its second round of airstrikes in just two weeks against Islamic State targets in Syria.
“French Rafale jets dropped bombs on a training camp” in the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio. “The objectives were accomplished,” he added, providing no details on casualties.
France is part of a broad, U.S.-led coalition trying to defeat the Islamic State and has provided weapons and other support for its preferred Syrian rebel groups.
Russia not targeting IS
Russia is Assad’s main international ally, and in recent days has dramatically stepped up its military intervention in support of Damascus.
Le Drian on Friday slammed the Russian campaign in Syria, claiming “80 to 90 percent” of Moscow’s recent airstrikes have not targeted the Islamic State group.
Other Western officials have complained the Russian airstrikes are aimed primarily at other Syrian rebel groups, including many of those backed by the U.S. and its allies.
Russian missiles hit Iran
There are also concerns about the accuracy of the weapons Russia is using to target Syrian rebels.
U.S. officials on Thursday told VOA that four Russian cruise missiles launched from warships in the Caspian Sea crashed in Iran, falling short of their targets in Syria. The official said there has been no information on damage.
Russian officials said 26 cruise missiles were launched at 11 Islamic State targets, which officials said were destroyed without causing any civilian casualties. The officials said no missiles went awry.