Two members of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Division died as “martyrs” in Iran in separate incidents over the weekend, Iranian media reported on Monday. The term is usually a designation given to those with important missions.
The deaths of the two men come as tensions remain high over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers, and its uranium enrichment program which is now the closest it has come. never been to military grade levels. While authorities have made no hint of foul play in the men’s deaths, Israel has been accused of killing other high-ranking members of the Guard amid the growing crisis.
The semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies, believed to be close to the Guard, identified one of the dead as Ali Kamani and said he died in Khomein, central Iran. Tasnim said Kamani died in a “car accident”, without giving further details.
News agencies did not give Kamani a ranking. However, a photo published by Tasnim showed the man wearing the epaulettes of a second lieutenant in the Aerospace Program of the Guard, which manages Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as some of the country’s air defences.
Khomein, the birthplace of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who led the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is in Markazi Province. This province is also home to Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak, a key nuclear program site surrounded by air defenses.
Fars alone reported the death of the second man, whom he identified as Mohammad Abdous. The agency published a photo of Abdous in civilian clothes at the Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad, Iran.
Fars said Abdous died “on a mission” while working in Iran’s Semnan province. The rural province of Semnan, east of Tehran, is home to the Imam Khomeini spaceport, which has been used for satellite launches.
The report of the deaths of the two men comes about a week and a half after the reported death of Guardsman Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh, a member of his Quds Expeditionary Force, in unclear circumstances.
In May, two gunmen on motorbikes shot and killed Guards Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei in Tehran. Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed. Iranian officials blamed “global arrogance” – code for the United States and Israel – for Khodaei’s killing.
Khodaei, 50, remains an obscure figure and Iran has yet to provide any biographical details beyond the fact that he was also a member of the elite Al-Quds force. The Guard described him as “the defender of sanctuary” – a reference to Iranians who support militias fighting the extremist group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Tehran and radical President Ebrahim Raisi visited his family.
The manner in which the killing was carried out evoked previous Israeli targeted attacks in Iran. In November 2020, a top Iranian military nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun while traveling in a car outside Tehran.