Afghan commander killed in southern Syria battle — activists
The Afghan commander is said to have been close with Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders, who also have a strong presence on the southern Syrian battlefield. (AFP/File)
A high-ranking Afghan Shia Muslim commander was killed Saturday during a battle with rebel groups in southern Syria, activists told the AFP Wednesday.
The death was also reported by Iranian media, which said the Afghan leader had a relationship with Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani.
Ali Reza Tavasoli, who led the Syrian government-alligned Afghan faction Fatimiyoun Brigade, was reportedly killed just south of the Syria's capital Damascus during clashes with Syrian rebel factions of southern Syria, according to the conservative Iranian publication, rajanews.com.
Both Iranian and Hezbollah fighters have a known presence in the south, where a mixed-bag of rebel fighters and Assad-aligned Shia factions are fighting for control of key strategic positions between the capital Damascus and the southern, revolution-birthplace city of Daraa.
An Daraa-based opposition activist based told the AFP the Afghan commander and other fighters were killed during a fierce battle for a key hilltop called Green Hill, which links the southern suburbs of the capital to the Daraa and Qunaitra provinces.
Syria's modern battlefield is fillled with complex web of fighter groups, ranging from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighting alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to foreign fighters aligned with Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliate, Nusra Front. Especially during recent clashes with government troops and militia support, rebel commanders in the south have reported an increased presence of foreign Shia fighters within Syrian regime ranks.