Iran Vows Revenge against Islamic State, U.S. after I.R.G.C. Soldier's Beheading

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Aug 11, 2017
Iran Vows Revenge against Islamic State, U.S. after I.R.G.C. Soldier's Beheading

Iranian leaders have reacted angrily to the beheading of an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) officer by the Islamic State in Syria. Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, condemned the “savage act” and vowed revenge. “After successive defeats of the Wahhabi-Takfiri groups affiliated with the Global Arrogance [U.S.] in different battlefields by Islamic combatants, the terrorist group Daesh [Islamic State] committed a horrendous and inhumane crime which is not in line with any Islamic or even humanitarian laws,” Soleimani wrote in a message of condolence to the family of Mohsen Hojaji. He emphasized that the act of terror will further strengthen his forces’ resolve to fight Iran’s enemies.

Separately, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of the I.R.G.C. Ground Force, also send a note of condolences to Hojaji’s family and likened his death to that of Imam Hossein, the third Shiite Imam who was beheaded in the Battle of Karbala almost 1,400 years ago.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also hailed Hojaji for “sacrificing his life for security and safety of oppressed Muslims and in the fight against the atrocities of Takfiri terrorists and their sponsors.”

Gulali Babaye, a veteran of the Iraq-Iran war and author, wrote in a piece published by I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency that President Donald Trump was responsible for the killing of the I.R.G.C. officer.

Comment: Mohsen Hojaji, a member of the I.R.G.C.’s Najaf-e Ashraf 8th Armored Division, was arrested and later decapitated by Islamic State militants in Syria. The terrorist group published photos and videos of his arrest and beheading.

He was among six other I.R.G.C. members and 40 militiamen of Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada group killed in southern Syria.

Earlier this week, Abu al-Welayi, the secretary-general of Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia group fighting in Syria and Iraq, told an Iranian outlet that the I.R.G.C. members and his militiamen were killed by U.S. air strikes. The U.S.-led coalition rejected the allegations; and Iraqi authorities refuted the charge later as well. The images and videos released by the Islamic State further discredited the militia group’s anti-U.S. propaganda.

But the reaction from Tehran shows that some Iranian leaders, including the leader of Quds Force, continue to hold the United States responsible for the killing of its officers. They accuse the U.S. military of supporting the Islamic State against Iran.

It is difficult to ascertain whether Iranian leaders believe in anti-U.S. allegations they often make, but one thing is certain: By accusing Washington, Iranian military leaders do not want to tell the Iranian people that their fellow countrymen are dying in Syria in defense of a foreign dictator in Bashar al-Assad.