Iranian guards replace commander of unit protecting Supreme Leader Khamenei

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has replaced the longtime commander of the unit responsible for protecting the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, state-affiliated media reported on Saturday.

The move came just two days after the militia announced it would also replace its intelligence chief, following a number of high-profile killings blamed on Israel and amid reports of attacks by Iranian revenge foiled in Turkey.

Ebrahim Jabbari, who had commanded the IRGC’s “Vali Amr Protection Corps” since 2010, has been replaced by Hasan Mashroueifar, the semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim quoted militia spokesman Ramezan Sharif as reporting.

The unit, tasked with protecting Khamenei and his family, would operate somewhat independently.

Little is known about the new chief Mashroueifar.

It was unclear whether Jabbari would be given a new role, but Tasnim said IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his “valuable and diligent service”.

On Thursday, Hossein Taeb, the former head of the IRGC Intelligence Organization was replaced by Mohammad Kazemi.

The replacement of the intelligence chief came after the killing of a number of members of the IRGC, which is designated as a terrorist group by Iran’s sworn enemy, the United States.

It also comes after Taeb was identified by Hebrew media last week as the Iranian official behind the planned attacks on Israelis in Turkey. The reports, citing Israeli security officials, said Taeb was under intense pressure to carry out an attack, amid growing frustration in Iran over Israel’s repeated successes in penetrating the most secretive organizations in Israel. Iran.

Hossein Taeb, former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence apparatus, looks on during a meeting in Tehran on June 24, 2018. (Hamed Malekpour/Tasnim News/AFP)

Iran and US ally Israel have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but tensions have escalated following a series of high-profile incidents that Tehran has blamed on the Jewish state.

On June 13, Ali Kamani, a member of the Guard’s aerospace division, was killed while on a mission in Khomein in central Markazi province, the IRGC said in a statement without further details.

Earlier in June, Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh, commander of the IRGC’s external operations unit, Al-Quds Force, died “in an accident at his home”, according to the official IRNA news agency.

And on May 22, Guards Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, 50, was killed outside his home in the eastern Iranian capital by assailants on motorbikes who shot him five times. Iranian state television said Khodaei was a member of the Quds Force and was “known” in Syria, where Iran has admitted to deploying “military advisers”.

People walk past a banner depicting Iranian Revolutionary Guards Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, before his funeral ceremony, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

The IRGC has described Khodaei as a “sanctuary defender,” a term used for those working on behalf of the Islamic Republic in Syria or Iraq. The IRGC accused “Zionists” of being behind the assassination and vowed revenge.

Last week, Israel urged its citizens to leave Turkey immediately due to “possible” threats from Iranian agents.

Turkish media reported on Thursday the arrest of eight people who allegedly work for an Iranian intelligence cell that planned to kill Israeli tourists in Istanbul. An Israeli official said on Friday that the Mossad spy agency and its local counterparts managed to thwart three Iranian attacks in Istanbul in recent days.

AFP contributed to this report.

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