ISIL claims killing of Iranian military adviser in Iraq
BAGHDAD - Agence France-PresseThe Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed the killing of a senior Iranian officer advising Iraqi forces in their fight against the jihadists, according to images posted on jihadist forums Dec. 29.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Dec. 28 announced the death of Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi, who had been training the army and Iraqi volunteers in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad.
One jihadist forum posted an image of the officer standing next to three others, with a red circle around his head above the caption: "A photo of the miscreant Hamid Taghavi who was killed by the men of ISIL in the region of Samarra."
Another image on the forum purportedly showed the body of the Iranian officer.
ISIL has not said how Taghavi died, but his funeral was held in Tehran on Monday in the presence of several senior officials.
"If people like the martyr Taghavi were not engaged in Syria and Iraq against the terrorists, the enemy would surely look to create insecurity in our country," Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani told funeral goers, the official Fars news agency reported.
Shiite Iran has sent military advisers to Iraq to help train and equip army troops and allied militias in their counteroffensive against ISIL, which seized large areas of the country in a June assault.
It has also armed Kurdish forces in northern Iraq and Iranian media have reported the deaths of several military personnel in both Iraq and Syria this year.
Iran is not participating in a U.S.-led coalition conducting air strikes against ISIL positions in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
Samarra, 110 kilometers north of Baghdad, is a mainly Sunni city but also home to the Askari shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.
Several Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have declared the preservation of Iraqi Shiite sites a "red line."